Archive of films Polytechnique / Polytechnique

2009, 77 min

Section: Tribute to Denis Villeneuve
Year: 2011

For seven years he has been planning an attack. His victims are feminists who, in his mind, take places reserved for men. Sometime in December 1989 he heads toward the Montreal Polytechnique with a gun. This black-and-white film does not explain or moralize; it concentrates on Valérie, a survivor of the massacre, and a boy who cannot bear the burden of his momentary cowardice.


For seven long years he has been planning an attack against young women who want to become engineers, entering a world that in his mind is reserved only for men. Just when he is heading toward the building of the Montreal Polytechnique with a loaded gun, student Valérie is being interviewed for an internship; to succeed she must keep quiet about her plans to start a family. When the killer reaches the classroom, the professor is lecturing on entropy, explaining that every system subject to pressure from its external environment undergoes a conversion that results in imbalance and a transfer of energy. The violence that follows is a perfect illustration of this definition. While Valérie is going through hell, her schoolmate Jean-François misses his chance to become a hero. This black-and-white film, based on a real event and shot in the actual places where the massacre took place in December 1989, has a theme similar to Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, but diverges from it in many ways. Villeneuve does not explore what brought the unnamed killer to such misogyny but, like a documentarist, he first records his deeds and then asks the question we are used to hearing in connection with war and holocaust: how can the survivors continue their lives? In this unspectacular but very impressive film, in which Pablo Picasso’s Guernica also plays a symbolic role, people hardly communicate, the cheerless school corridors induce feelings of alienation, and the viewer, watching the snow falling endlessly, almost forgets that the setting is a big city. The film won nine Genie Awards.


Telefilm Canada
360, rue Saint-Jacques, Suite 600, H2Y 1P5, Montreal, Quebec
Tel: +1 514 283 636 3
Fax: +1 514 283 236 5

Remstar Productions
85, rue Saint-Paul O, Bureau 300, H2Y 3V4, Montreal, Quebec
Tel: +1 514 847 113 6
Fax: +1 514 847 116 3

Wild Bunch
65 rue de Dunkerque, 75009, PARIS
Tel: +33 143 132 130
Fax: + 33 1 431 321 30

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Tribute to Denis Villeneuve
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Screenplay: Jacques Davidts, Denis Villeneuve, Éric Leca
Dir. of Photography: Pierre Gill
Music: Benoît Charest
Editor: Richard Comeau
Producer: Maxime Rémillard, Don Carmody
Production: Remstar Productions
Cast: Sébastien Huberdeau, Maxim Gaudette, Karine Vanasse, Evelyne Brochu, Pierre-Yves Cardinal
Contact: Telefilm Canada, Remstar Productions, Wild Bunch


Denis Villeneuve

Film Director

Brigitte Hubmann

Film Institution Rep.

Carolle Brabant

Film Institution Rep.


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