The nominations of Jeremy Comte’s Fauve and fellow Quebec director Marianne Farley’s Marguerite in the best live-action short Oscars category have created more buzz as Academy Awards frontrunners for Canada after both French-language shorts already enjoyed an impressive trophy haul on the festival circuit.
“It’s very overwhelming. We are just for now so happy to be nominated,” Farley told The Hollywood Reporter after her nomination was unveiled Tuesday morning. “Mine is the only film directed by a woman. I’m proud to represent women directors in the category and to have made it onto the Oscars list. But I don’t really want to think about that,” she added about looking ahead to the Oscars ceremony and competing for the top honor in the category Feb. 24.
Farley’s Marguerite over 19 minutes tells the story of an aging woman (Beatrice Picard) who develops a friendship with her nurse (Sandrine Bisson) that inspires her to reveal a long-hidden sexual taboo and make peace with her past.
Fauve, which stars Felix Grenier and Alexandre Perreault and earlier nabbed a Sundance Special Jury Prize, tells the story of two boys who sink into a seemingly innocent power game at a surface mine, with shockingly tragic results.
Comte explained that the short film, which was inspired by a recurring nightmare he had as a young boy, has produced a dream come true as Fauve, who grew up watching the Academy Awards and wanting to become a director, now challenges for an Oscar.
“Now it’s come full circle for me. I grew up watching American cinema, this is what I most connect with. I feel so honored and grateful that the Academy picked Fauve. It’s already unbelievable,” Comte said.
The Oscars in recent years has provided a Hollywood launchpad for fellow Quebec directors like Jean-Marc Vallee, Denis Villeneuve, Kim Nguyen and Phillipe Falardeau as they now direct star-driven movies and TV series stateside.
Both Fauve and Marguerite, while different in subject and tone, are emotion-packed French-language two-handers. “I really wanted to write a very simple story. I’m also an actress. I feel that there aren’t enough important female roles, and I wanted to bring to the screen two strong females,” Farley explained of the decision to feature only Picard and Bisson onscreen.
For Comte, writing a film about two boys, with adults barely seen or heard onscreen, was about simplifying his story to fit the time constraints of a short film. “For me, it’s a very personal story and I wanted to put it in a children’s world,” he said.
Canada also saw the Vancouver-based, Oscar-winning animation duo of Alison Snowden and David Fine receive another Academy Award nomination for their latest National Film Board of Canada animated short Animal Behavior, about a group therapy session for animals who grapple with issues not unlike those of humans.