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Quebec filmmaker SophieDeraspe's film is modern retelling of Greek tragedy

Quebec writer-director Sophie Deraspe says she's proud that herfilm has been chosen as the "Canadian ambassador" in the lead-up tothe 2020 Academy Awards.

Telefilm Canada announced Friday that Canada is puttingforward Antigone tovie for a nomination in the Oscars' best international feature film category,previously known as best foreign language film.

Deraspe said she sees the recognition not only as an endorsementof her craft, but also of the ideal the film espouses.

"Antigone isalso a film about values — values of sympathy, integrity, love," theMontreal filmmaker said by phone after Friday's announcement.

"I feel proud of ... campaigning not only for film, for theart of filmmaking, but also those values."

A modern take on Sophocles' Greek tragedy, the drama, setin Montreal, centres on Antigone, played by newcomer Nahéma Ricci — a teenagercaught in a clash between her moral code and Canada's justice system whentragedy strikes her immigrant family.

Deraspe, who wrote and directed the film, said the storyrepresents the power of the individual to shatter the "immovablewall" of the system.

"It's about a young woman who has no power in terms of whatpower is in our world ... and she stands against authority because of what shebelieves," said Deraspe, whose credits include the 2015 documentary The Amina Profile and thefeature Les Loups.

"That's what the film wants to carry — that OK, there'sthis big system above us, but we are those that are powerful deep inside."

Antigone won the $30,000 Canada Goose Award for bestCanadian feature film at the Toronto International Film Festival last Sunday.

Since then, Deraspe said she's been fielding calls from Americanfilm agents offering to help her break into Hollywood.

While she's interested in the opportunity to expand hercinematic reach, the 45-year-old said moving to Los Angeles wasn't really her"dream."

"We live in a country that supports art and filmmaking ...that supports auteur filmmaking, not only commercial voices," she said.

"We can bring out something to an audience that resonatesmore than just for fun or adventure, and in that way, yes, I'm proud of mycountry, and I'm proud of being the ambassador."

Antigone, which hits theatres in Quebec on Nov. 6, iscompeting against films submitted by dozens of other countries, including twoCanadian co-productions, in the race for an Oscars' nod for internationalfeature.

A short list of 10 films will be unveiled on Dec. 16, and thechosen five official nominees will be announced on Jan.13.

Palestine is entering Elia Suleiman's It Must Be Heaven, co-producedby Canada, Palestine, Qatar, Turkey and France.Cuban-Canadianco-venture A Translator byRodrigo Barriuso and Sebastian Barriuso will represent Cuba in the race.

September 27, 2019

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