Manon Briand ponders directing an English-language movie


Manon Briand already screens her movies at Toronto International Film Festival, with the latest, Liverpool, showing as part of the Special Presentation sidebar this week.

Now the Quebec director is considering another attempt at making her first English-language movie, in Toronto or south of the border.

“I’m considering all options. It would be simpler to be Toronto or in the States,” Briand told Playback.

The Quebec director’s last movie before Liverpool was the 2002 French-language drama Chaos and Desire.

In the following years, Briand wrote four movie scripts, and saw none produced, including one English language project, Out of Z, that nearly made it to camera, only to fall apart for the lack of an Hollywood A-list actor.

“The project gathered a lot of enthusiasm from the States and France. We nearly made it to the starting line. So it was frustrating to abandon it in the end,” Briand recalled.

Other Quebec directors have jumped into English-language filmmaking, including Jean-Marc Vallée‘s The Young Victoria and Ken Scott’s remake of Starbuck.

Pushing Briand to look at an English-language project is the ability to draw Hollywood stars, and so international financing, and her producer, Roger Frappier of Max Films, making contacts in Los Angeles as he also crosses over into English-language projects, including a remake of his 2003 box office hit Seducing Dr Lewis by Quebec director Jean-Francois Pouliot.

“I know it’s harder to work in English. But the pool is bigger. Having that bigger choice of acting pool is something that appeals to me,” she added.

Meanwhile, Liverpool, a genre-bending caper movie that is at once thriller and romantic comedy had its second TIFF screening at the Scotiabank theater on Thursday.

The first Tuesday night screening at Bell Lightbox was well received, much like the Quebec director’s output since her debut film, Les saufs-conduits screened in Toronto in 1991.

“It’s TIFF. I don’t know if it’s like that for everyone, but the audiences here are amazing and great. They’re open to all kinds of films, they’re curious and very interested,” Briand said of the first Toronto screening.

Liverpool portrays a coat-check girl in a nightclub, played by Stéphanie Lapointe, in the middle of criminal underworld conspiracy, and trying to get to the bottom of the drama with a  clubgoer she pines for, played by Charles-Alexandre Dubé.

“Is it a romantic comedy or a thriller? It’s a bit of both. I just started to write the film and wanted the audience to embark on a series of surprises and keep moving forward and not reflect too much on the past,” Briand said of her latest movie.

The Toronto International Film Festival wraps on September 16.