While actress Suzanne Clement has already earned plenty of accolades for her performance in Laurence Anyways, the French Canadian star stilled seemed giddy to pick up trophies in Sarasota for both herself and the film. “This film has been shown in a lot of countries, I don’t know how many,” Clement said. “I’m so excited to be here.”
Clement arrived in Sarasota knowing she would pick up the World Cinema Award for her performance in the film. But she learned on Saturday night that Laurence Anyways was picked by Sarasota Film Festival jurors as the winner of the Narrative Feature Competition.The story of Laurence Anyways, written and directed by 24-year-old Xavier Dolan, is about the troubled love affair of male lead Laurence, played by Melvil Poupaud, and female lead Fred, played by Clement, after Laurence declared he wishes to live his life as a transexual. The evolution of Laurence leads to confusion and rage on the the part of Fred, who feels constantly angry with her lover yet will virulently defend him against even the most innocuous rudeness Laurence encounters while going outside in drag.
“I think it shakes up the taboos about sexuality, and who we are as human beings,” Clement told SRQ at the Tribute Luncheon. “There are so many movies about gays coming out, which are still super interesting, but we have maybe gotten used to this storytelling, so it is less of a surprise.
“This brings to it another perspective. It is also rooted in a love story, not just a man becoming a woman. So how does such an amazing change, and something not really accepted in society or that shakes the roots of whats society is made of, man and woman, handle such a change? I think it can bring audiences to reflect on how we judge ourselves and how we judge others.”
At the Closing Night awards, Clement was quick to heap credit and praise on Dolan for putting such a film out at such a young age. “This is his third film!,” she told the audience as she picked up the award.
But the movie is doing great things for Clement’s career as well. Clement picked up the Un Certain Regard Award for Best Actress at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Acclaim will likely only grow when the film is released theatrically in the United States this June.
And Clement is also embarking on more English language film (Laurence Anyways is almost entirely in French with English subtitles). She stars in Sitting on the Edge of Marlene, a film set for release in 2014. “Hopefully, more things will open up on the English side.”
But for the moment, she is pleased to represent her native Quebec. The government of Quebec sent representatives to Sarasota this year to present Clement with her award here. Clement’s hope is that successes like that enjoyed by Laurence Anyways will pave the way for more Quebecoise filmmakers, a group she feels has to often been excluded from the Canadian film industry.