Sophie Deraspe (‘Antigone’) on directing Canada’s Oscar submission: ‘Family, love, dignity and resistance’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“I was inspired by this story written more than 2000 years ago, but still is so relevant,” Sophie Deraspe says about adapting the Sophocles play ‘Antigone’ for her film of the same name, which is Canada’s entry for the Best International Feature Oscar. The writer-director elaborates in her interview with Gold Derby at the 19th Whistler Film Festival (watch above), “It was in my early 20s when I read the play and I felt like I had to bring it back into a contemporary setting because it feels still so relevant.” Deraspe’s film transposes Antigone from classical Greece to present-day Montreal as an Algerian immigrant.

Deraspe calls it “a very universal story about family, about love, about dignity and resistance,” so she wants audiences to know that “you don’t have to know the play in order to appreciate the film.” Deraspe explains that the main change from the myth is in the personification of the antagonism that Antigones faces. “Nowadays, authority is not one single person,” Deraspe says about why her version has her protagonist not negotiating with a king, but instead, “She’s confronting police, justice and then prison (or juvenile care system) and then ultimately, the figure of the father of her boyfriend.”

Having won the People’s Choice Award for Best Canadian Film after its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, “Antigone” was selected for Oscar consideration as Canada’s submission for the Best International Feature category. Deraspe recounts that upon hearing the news, she called Jean-Marc Vallee and Denis Villeneuve and “they were very, very open.” Vallée and Villeneuve are previous directors of Canadian Oscar submissions who have since gone on to Oscar nominations for American films in English; Deraspe is following in their footsteps, with an English-language film currently in development.

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