CATEGORIES Made in Canada


Let's face it: Francophones are sidelined in this country, even though they speak a national language. The limitations and exclusions faced by this minority don't stop at the language barrier – they extend to all arenas, including film. The opening film at Cinefranco 2010, English Canada's largest celebration of international francophone cinema, addresses the isolation many Francophones feel.

'Everybody's Couch' ['Le Divan Du Monde'], directed by self-described Franco-Ontarian Dominic Desjardins, follows two lost souls as they travel from British Columbia to the red-sanded shores of Prince Edward Island. As the couple stops in various provinces, we're exposed to their burgeoning relationship and their interactions with people across the country. Enlightening, fun, and heartwarming, 'Everybody's Couch' humourously highlights the differences between French and English, male and female, and young and old, while showing how similar we truly are underneath it all.

Moviefone Canada sat down to talk with Desjardins about his inspiration, and just how difficult it is to help promote the Francophone culture outside Quebec.

Let's face it: Francophones are sidelined in this country, even though they speak a national language. The limitations and exclusions faced by this minority don't stop at the language barrier – they extend to all arenas, including film. The opening film at Cinefranco 2010, English Canada's largest celebration of international francophone cinema, addresses the isolation many Francophones feel.

'Everybody's Couch' ['Le Divan Du Monde'], directed by self-described Franco-Ontarian Dominic Desjardins, follows two lost souls as they travel from British Columbia to the red-sanded shores of Prince Edward Island. As the couple stops in various provinces, we're exposed to their burgeoning relationship and their interactions with people across the country. Enlightening, fun, and heartwarming, 'Everybody's Couch' humourously highlights the differences between French and English, male and female, and young and old, while showing how similar we truly are underneath it all.

Moviefone Canada sat down to talk with Desjardins about his inspiration, and just how difficult it is to help promote the Francophone culture outside Quebec.

What was your inspiration for the film?


I always wanted to do a film about being in exile and being uprooted; the feeling that you get when you meet somebody with the same accent, or the same values, or the same culture on the other side of the world. Also, I started off in cinema doing a show called 'La Course Destination Monde' ['The Race Around the World'], and so they sent me to eight different countries around the world. I always associated making films with travel. This was sort of a race around Canada.

This film has some similarities with 'One Week,' the film starring Joshua Jackson.

I haven't seen it, but I should see it... I heard about it when I was doing the editing for this film. I didn't want to see it at that point, because I was totally focusing on this. [Laughs]

Of all the Canadian provinces you visited while filming, which one did you enjoy most?


PEI is grand. When you're on the side with the ocean, with a white house... it's just picturesque and beautiful. I think it was also the icing on the cake at the end of the shoot. The pressure was off, and we had done the most difficult parts of the film. It was just her coming home.

One particular thing I enjoyed about your film was the obvious dichotomy drawn between Francophones and Anglophones, and then "central" Canadians and Maritimers. An interesting theme.

I grew up in New Brunswick, from age 9 to 16, and I noticed that there is a special relationship between Francophones in the Maritimes and Quebec. Outside of Quebec, we're in a minority situation. Within Quebec, we're not. This minority perspective is what I pulled the themes of the film from. It's all about dealing with issues when you're the minority, trying to connect in a culture that you have to get used to, while still wanting to speak French.

I experience the same issue in my real life. I've been living in Toronto for five years now, and I'm constantly striving to make movies in French, which can be a real challenge.

How difficult is it to make French films outside of Quebec?


It's tough in terms of financing. This film is exceptional because I was invited on a tour of Canada as a media artist, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Quebec. I met both lead actors on this tour, and the idea was born. But most definitely the biggest challenge is to work with virtually no money whatsoever. We pulled it off on a shoestring. It's the first Franco-Ontarian film in the past 25 years!

That's amazing. It turned out well, too. And you certainly lucked out with your charismatic leads.

That was the biggest chance I took with the movie. I thought, 'Can I make a film where there's no kidnapping, no explosions, no guns?' I wanted to make it about the relationship, and the little things: he likes her, she doesn't, she warms up to him... there are little movements within their interaction. It's not about pulling all the drama to the maximum. It's about exploring a situation that's inadequate for both of them, but they're trying to make it happen. Melanie [Leblanc] and Antoine [Gratton] were amazing, charming, and they worked remarkably well together.

Did you keep any souvenirs for yourself after your long trip?

I really took in that walk on the beach in PEI. It was such a release.

You mean you didn't keep any of the boxers with the maple leaf on the front?

[Laughs] No, they were pre-worn, so I left them to Antoine.

What are you up to next?

Well, I'm working on what I hope will be the second Franco-Ontarian film in the last 25 years. [Laughs] I'm filming it in eastern Ontario, not far from the border of Quebec. So we're not venturing too far.

'Everybody's Couch' opens the Cinefranco Film Festival 2010 on March 26 in Toronto at AMC Yonge/Dundas.

For more information, visit the Cinefranco website.