Thursday, 3 February 2011

Long Play: Heartbeats and I Killed My Mother

Heartbeats and I Killed My Mother

"My relationship with [film] is like people in a married relationship. The belief that love is reciprocal. It's a way for me to love and be loved." - Xavier Dolan speaking to IndieWIRE

As part of its Long Play program, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) will present two films from 21-year-old Quebecois filmmaker, Xavier Dolan. Screening from 7 to 28 April will be Dolan's new feature film, Heartbeats (2010), along with his award-winning directorial debut, I Killed My Mother (2009).

An account of two people's descent into love and all the madness and mixed emotions they experience along the way, Heartbeats was written by Dolan on a train trip to Toronto in 2009. Along with I Killed My Mother, it is the second feature film that he has written, directed and starred in.

A tragi-comedy set within a world of cigarettes, parties and casual sex, Heartbeats is the story of two good friends, Francis (Xavier Dolan) and Marie (Monia Chokri), who fall hopelessly in love with the newest addition to their friendship group, Nicolas (Niels Schneider). As Francis and Marie compete for Nicolas' affections, their infatuation becomes all-consuming and their friendship begins to disintegrate. 

On filming Heartbeats Dolan says, "I was mentally poring over our first day's work and beginning to sense that this film was going to be nothing like I Killed My Mother. Nevertheless, at that moment, I was not about to rule out the same dense, anguished emotional charge that had informed my earlier work."

Dolan wrote the screenplay for his first feature film, I Killed My Mother, at age seventeen. Strangely enough, it was Dolan's love of acting that kick-started his filmmaking career when he realised that if he opted to direct the film, it would also afford him the opportunity to star in it.

An honest and all too familiar account of family members who don't see eye to eye, I Killed My Mother examines the relationship between sixteen-year-old Hubert Minel (Xavier Dolan) and his single mother, Chantale Lemming (Anne Dorval).

Like many teenagers, Hubert is experiencing a rough transition into adolescence and with this comes a strong dislike for his mother. Hubert regards her as controlling, manipulative and without his best interests at heart; his life is sharply contrasted against the carefree existence of his boyfriend, Antonin.

I Killed My Mother brought Dolan to the attention of the international film community when it won three awards and received an eight minute standing ovation at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. The film also went on to win awards at the Zagreb Film Festival, the Reykjavik International Film Festival and the Vancouver International Film Festival, and was submitted as Canada's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards.

Proving a resourceful filmmaker from the outset, Dolan relied on savings from his work as a child actor and credit cards to finance I Killed My Mother, while funding for Heartbeats came from three private investors. Since the release of these films, Dolan has commenced work on his third feature, Lawrence Anyways.

ACMI Film Programmer Kristy Matheson says, "Both films have all the alluring qualities of youth, they are vibrant, brash, immediate and entirely invigorating. Dolan clearly loves the cinema, which shines through in his wonderful use of cinematic language, timing and tone. This is no one trick pony - he is a definite talent worthy of all the hype and praise."

Praise for Heartbeats:

"One of the finest young filmmakers to emerge in the last decade" Steve Gravestock, Toronto Film Festival

"Captures the despair and longing of young heartache...." Mike Goodridge, Screen International

Praise for I Killed My Mother:

".a confident and exciting new filmmaker with big ideas and an innate sense of cinematic storytelling." Alan Bacchus, Daily Film Dose

".I Killed My Mother marks the emergence of an exciting new filmmaking talent." Eric Kohn, IndieWire

The Long Play seasons of Heartbeats and I Killed My Mother screen exclusively at ACMI in Melbourne from Thursday 7 April to Thursday 28 April. For program information and session times please visit


Further information

Frances Mariani
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2475 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 655


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