Xavier Dolan & cast wear the red square at Cannes
There will be a lot of red tonight in Cannes, and not just on the carpet of the Croisette. Xavier Dolan, the darling of Québécois cinema and winner of the 2011 Prix de lutte contre l’homophobie appeared with his cast at the screening of Laurence Anyways sporting a red square, which he and thousands of Québec artists have worn in recent weeks in solidarity with the student strike.
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The 23 yr-old director told a cohort of Québécois journalists in Cannes this morning that he and his cast would be wearing the red felt square in protest against the much-maligned Bill 78, which was adopted early today by Québec’s National Assembly. The bill, now law, imposes harsh fines on demonstrators and would see the school year suspended until August in the 14 CEGEP colleges and 11 universities currently undergoing student boycotts as a measure of opposition to the Charest government’s planned %75 tuition hike.
“I am determined to show my true colours because I am afraid of what is happening to youth in Québec, goddamnit [câlisse], with this authoritarian regime. The conflict has expanded to unbelievable proportions. It’s not the Québec I knew. I am torn between the première of my film and the fate of my generation,” Dolan lamented to journalists earlier today.
This small symbolic gesture will be a huge visibility boost to the student movement, as Dolan and his actors Nathalie Baye, Monia Chokri, Suzanne Clément, Melvil Poupaud and Yves Jacques indeed walked the red carpet with the emblematic red squares pinned to their lapels at tonight’s Cannes screening in front of over two hundred photographers from around the world.
In April, when interviewed on TVA morning news about Laurence Anyways being selected off competition at the prestigious festival, Dolan took the anchors off-guard by starting with a shout-out to Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the co-spokesman for the Coalition pour un Solidarité Syndicale étudiante (La CLASSE). “I would like to say first and foremost that Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is doing an amazing job; he’s very articulate and he has impressed me a lot; but also I find, and this is entirely unimportant, that he’s very sexy,” the out gay director chimed.
Whatever audiences might think of Dolan’s new film, his vocal support of the strike, and symbolic red carpet gesture are sure to be remembered for years to come, and to further endear the cinema prodigy to his legion of fans – students and otherwise. Another massive demonstration is underway in the streets of Montréal tonight, while virtually all of civil society along with the Parti québécois and Québec Solidaire have condemned the Liberal-made law, which many fear is a serious threat to democratic freedoms.
Amnesty International‘s Canadian Francophone branch and the Québec Bar Association both released statements today roundly criticizing the new law.
Banner photo by Richmond Lam (Alliance Vivafilm)