In the history of Canadian cinema, there has never been anything quite like it. A visually sumptuous sci-fi movie set in a not-too-distant Montreal, this brilliant story eschews army battles and conflicts, and looks instead at a world in which creating art and music and beauty have taken over the collective consciousness. TED2013 speaker Martin Villeneuve has crafted a debut with the grandeur of a Hollywood blockbuster and the eloquence of the art house.
“Oh, what a wonderful, rich, glorious treat of a film Mars et Avril is. A sci-fi steam-punk romance with a terrific score, it is a delight to the senses. Visually stunning, melodramatic in its storytelling, and unafraid to delve into deep philosophical musings.” – Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg, Twitch Film
OFFICIAL THEATRICAL TRAILER (English subtitled)
Mars et Avril got its theatrical release in Quebec on October 12, 2012. The film received four nominations at the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards: achievement in music, achievement in overall sound, best adapted screenplay and achievement in visual effects, and five nominations at the 2013 Jutra Awards.The DVD of the film as well as the digital version on iTunes were released in Canada through Alliance Vivafilm on March 19, 2013. In September 2013, Mars et Avril was sold to the U.S. and will now benefit from a massive on-line distribution through major digital platforms!
See the film on-line:
“Mars et Avril is deliciously philosophical in nature. Concepts of music, breathing, reality, time, innocence, and so much more seemed to spill out of every aspect of this film, from the script to the visuals.” – Kindah Mardam Bey, Press+1
With the first manned mission to Mars as its backdrop, Mars et Avril follows three musical geniuses: Jacob Obus (Jacques Languirand), an aging jazz musician and legendary lothario; Eugène Spaak (veteran film and theatre director Robert Lepage), a late technological wizard who lives on in a cybernetic body; and Arthur (Paul Ahmarani), who builds instruments modeled after female bodies. Each of the three finds their lives altered by the appearance of the gorgeous young photographer, Avril (Caroline Dhavernas). On a journey to Mars, she gets lost in a form of cosmic consciousness that makes this film truly one of a kind.
“Based on his graphic novels, Mars et Avril is a stunning accomplishment, not just for a first-time filmmaker, but for the genre, and especially for a project with such a modest budget. Its distinct visual grandeur is matched (and surpassed) only by the boundless creativity and thoughtfulness of the story – this is a piece of motion art absolutely brimming with ideas.” – Scott A. Gray, Exclaim!
A STRIKING FEATURE FILM DEBUT
After studying filmmaking and graphic design in Montreal, Martin Villeneuve directed short films and music videos, and worked for several years as an artistic director in advertising, most notably for Cirque du Soleil. His writing career began with the creation of three graphic novels: La voix du tonnerre (2004) and Mars et Avril, volumes 1 and 2 (2002 and 2006), which were all released to critical acclaim and multiple awards. In 2012, the movie adaptation of Mars et Avril which Villeneuve wrote, directed and produced, was brought to the big screen with success.
“A trippy science fiction fable about the musicality of the universe that’s set in Montreal and on the Red Planet, the sumptuously designed Mars et Avril is certainly one of a kind.” – Boyd van Hoeij, Variety
The completion of this first movie was a great challenge for Villeneuve, that of creating a narratively and visually consistent science fiction world, an achievement without precedent in Quebec. Most importantly, the young filmmaker had to find ways to reconcile strong visual ambitions with very limited resources – it was a place of intense learning and invention at all levels of production. Throughout the process, he met some amazingly talented artists of international stature, including Oscar-nominated composer Benoît Charest (The Triplets of Belleville), former ILM visual effects supervisor Carlos Monzon (Avatar, Star Trek, Transformers) and production designer François Schuiten (The Golden Compass, Mr. Nobody).
“The stunning futuristic Montreal is lovingly produced via the special effects, creating an unworldly and dreamy future city that fits perfectly with the graphic novel style.” – Mark Adams, Screen Daily
Shot on a very tight budget of 2.3 million, in only 25 days and with abundant use of green screen, Mars et Avril has no less than 550 visual effect shots, all of which required colossal prep and meticulous post-production work. The film’s 1200 shots were hand-drawn as storyboards and then edited with the dialogue in a detailed, two-hour long animatic that mapped out every detail before shooting, and which the director personally supervised. Most of the sets were computer-generated and given a photo-realistic treatment, into which the characters were then deftly integrated.
“An extraordinary universe that’s remarkably inventive and impossible to forget.” – Brendan Kelly, The Gazette
Mars et Avril received resounding worldwide acclaim: 9 nominations in Canada, 20 international festivals among the most prestigious (Karlovy Vary, Mumbai, Mill Valley, Whistler, Brussels, etc.), two awards for “incredible post-production work” (one at the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival and the other at the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival) and positive reviews abroad, including that of Variety and The Gazette (4.5 stars out of 5). In addition, the sheer inventiveness of the film’s production won Martin an invitation to give a TED Talk (Technology, Entertainment and Design) in Long Beach, California, last February, thereby becoming the first Québécois to do so.
“All of this put together is a small, colorful delight – the funny bits come and go quickly enough to get their chuckles and not wear out their welcome, the whole thing is pretty, and the story that eventually gets told has some heft to it without ever losing sight of the film’s goal of being entertaining.” – Jay Seaver, eFilmCritic
- Jacob Obus: JACQUES LANGUIRAND
- Avril: CAROLINE DHAVERNAS
- Arthur Spaak: PAUL AHMARANI
- Eugène Spaak: ROBERT LEPAGE
ARTISTIC & TECHNICAL CREDITS
- A Film by: MARTIN VILLENEUVE
- Genre: SCIENCE FICTION / DRAMA
- Format: 91 MIN. / COLOR / 2:35:1 / RED DIGITAL CAMERA
- Original version: FRENCH / ENGLISH SUBTITLED
- Written & Directed by: MARTIN VILLENEUVE
- Adapted from the graphic novels Mars et Avril, vol. 1 & 2 (Sid lee & la Pastèque) by: MARTIN VILLENEUVE
- Produced by: ANNE-MARIE GÉLINAS, BENOÎT BEAULIEU, MARTIN VILLENEUVE
- Distributors: ALLIANCE VIVAFILM (Canada), GAIAM (United States)
- International Sales Agent: FILMOPTION INTERNATIONAL
- Cinematographer: BENOÎT BEAULIEU
- Production Designer: FRANÇOIS SCHUITEN
- Visual Effects: VISION GLOBALE
- VFX Supervisor: CARLOS MONZON
- Art Direction: MARTIN TESSIER, PATRICK SIOUI, ELISABETH WILLIAMS
- Costumes: MARIANE CARTER
- Editor: MATHIEU DEMERS
- Sound Designer: OLIVIER CALVERT
- Sound Mixer: LUC BOUDRIAS
- Original Score: BENOÎT CHAREST
- Artistic Consultant: ROBERT LEPAGE
- Production: MARS ET AVRIL INC. / EMA FILMS — All rights reserved © 2012
- March 21-30, 2014: FICG Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara, Mexico.
- September 29, 2013: Lund Fantastisk Film Festival, Sweden.
- September 22, 2013: Tel-Aviv International Festival of Fantastic Film, Israel.
- September 22, 2013: Festival de Cinéma de la Ville de Québec & Vitesse Lumière, Canada.
- July 9, 2013: Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival, Switzerland (international competition).
- May 5, 2013: Sci-Fi London Film Festival, UK.
- April 14, 2013: Imagine Film Festival in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
- April 3, 2013: Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival, Belgium (“7th Orbit” 2013 international competition).
- February 23, 2013: Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois, Montreal, Canada (in competition for the Gilles-Carle Award).
- February 11, 2013 (Opening film): Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival, United States.
- December 6, 2012 (Opening film): Monsters and Martians International Film Festival, Toronto, Canada.
- December 1, 2012: Whistler Film Festival, Canada (Section / Film Type: “Discoveries”).
- October 21, 2012: Mumbai Film Festival, India.
- October 11, 2012 (Opening film of the FOCUS section): Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Montreal, Canada.
- October 5, 2012 (U.S. premiere): Mill Valley Film Festival, California, United States.
- September 29, 2012 (Closing gala): Calgary International Film Festival, Canada.
- September 17, 2012: Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival, Canada.
- September 15, 2012 (Canadian premiere): Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax, Canada.
- July 2, 2012 (World premiere): Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Czech Republic (the film was selected in the section “Another View” for its unique artistic approach in both form and content).