When the first manned mission to Mars hits turbulence due to personality clashes amongst the crew, the higher-ups devise a high concept solution: create a simulacrum of the spacecraft, stock it with five surrogates who possess the same personalities as the feuding astronauts, and have them re-enact the events occurring light minutes away. And so it is that David (Steve Laplante), a P.E. teacher, achieves an approximation of his childhood dream to journey to the stars. And while he earnestly believes he’s making a difference, it seems far more likely that he’s being made the butt of some cosmic joke. Is it possible to find your purpose when you’ve been stripped of all of your agency?
Marking the long-awaited return of Stéphane Lafleur (Tu dors Nicole), Viking never speculates whether there’s intelligent life on Mars. However, it certainly contends that there’s rampant absurdity here on Earth. To use the parlance of the film, Lafleur’s cast displays “complete commitment to the mission” by dialing into the film’s deadpan wavelengths and mining poignancy from this folly.
Special Mention for Best Canadian Feature Film (Amplify Voices), TIFF 2022
Steve Laplante, Larissa Corriveau, Fabiola N. Aladin, Hamza Haq, Denis Houle, Marie Brassard
In French and English with English subtitles
Saturday October 08
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Stéphane Lafleur, Eric K. Boulianne
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Stéphane Lafleur is a filmmaker, musician, and film editor. His first feature film, Continental, un film sans fusil (2007), had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival’s Venice Days section and won the Citytv Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film at TIFF. En terrains connus (2011) won the Ecumenical Jury Prize at the Berlinale, Best Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and the Grand Jury Prize at the Taipei Film Festival. Tu dors Nicole (2014), his third feature, premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes and screened at TIFF and other film festivals.
Filmography: Continental, un film sans fusil (2007); En terrains connus (2011); Tu dors Nicole (2014)