SCS D: Denis Villeneuve. 12 minutes. Sep 6, 9:30 pm AMC 3; Sep 7, noon Jackman Hall. Rating: NNNN
An apocalyptic vision with touches of Terry Gilliam and Peter Greenaway, Denis Villeneuve's short film Next Floor was the result of a happy accident.
"This project was a commission," Villeneuve explains at the Canadian pavilion at Cannes, speaking in English that's much, much better than my pitiful French.
"Phoebe Greenberg had bought this huge building in downtown Montreal for a cultural centre, and she approached me to make a kind of tri bute to it, to capture it as it was."
The moment he visited the site, Villeneuve realized the big, empty warehouse would be the perfect stage for a notion he'd had about a hellish dinner party.
"For a long time, I'd wanted to make a film with this kind of formal approach and dark humour, so I said yes right away. A few years ago, I'd written a feature film with this kind of atmosphere, with a banquet at the end of the world - it had been in my drawer. Sometimes those ideas are like wine; you have to put them in the cellar and wait."
The digital short serves to reintroduce Villeneuve to the global film community. He's been absent since his eccentric drama Maelström won five Genies, including best picture, in 2001.
His next project, Polytechnique, tackles the Montreal massacre.
"It was a very, very intense and difficult project to do," he says. "Every time you put the camera somewhere, you have to determine your moral position about it."