Jeez, I swear it’s not July with with the cool weather and all this hockey stuff. Anyway…
Launching movie to mark Habs’ 100th
Brendan Kelly, Montreal GazettePour Toujours, les Canadiens!, the upcoming feature film tied to the 100th anniversary of the most storied franchise in professional hockey, will star some of Quebec’s top actors, including Céline Bonnier, Jean Lapointe, Denis Bernard, Claude Legault and Réal Bossé.But the French-language film, which began shooting this week, will also feature some first-time thespians who also happen to be pretty famous. They include legendary Habs captain Jean Béliveau and current team captain Saku Koivu, along with a number of Koivu’s team-mates. The first scenes were shot at the Ste. Justine Hospital Sept. 15, and several Habs were on-hand to appear in those scenes, including Koivu, Chris Higgins, Mike Komisarek, Francis Bouillon, and goalie Carey Price.One strand of the plot concerns a 10-year-old boy — played by the astonishing Antoine L’Écuyer, currently garnering raves for his star turn in C’est pas moi, je le jure! — who is in the hospital awaiting a kidney transplant.
“The scene we were filming was of the team’s annual visit to Ste. Justine,” said director Sylvain Archambault, who just won the Gémeaux Award Sunday night for best drama director for his work on Les Lavigueur, la vraie histoire.“The Habs players are all playing themselves but the one player you’ll see more than any of the others is Saku Koivu,” said Archambault.Given Koivu’s own history of grave illness — he successfully battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma during the 2001-2002 season — Archambault said it was touching to see him interact in this scene with L’Écuyer playing an ailing kid at the hospital.“Saku has some real baggage inside him that nourished him and I was really impressed by his performance,” said Archambault.Archambault and his crew were shooting the real Habs on the ice Tuesday (Sept. 15) afternoon at the Bell Centre and they’ll be back to film more on-ice action at the Habs arena Wednesday and Thursday. In addition, Archambault plans to shoot at a number of exhibition games in the coming weeks.“Hockey is one of the fastest sports in the world and I want to show hockey like it’s never been seen before,” said the director.Archambault, screenwriter Jacques Savoie — who also won a Gémeaux trophy Sunday, Sept. 14, for his work on Les Lavigueur — and producers Lorraine Richard and Luc Martineau from production house Cité Amerique held a press conference at the Cage aux Sports in the Bell Centre Tuesday (Sept. 15) morning to announce the details of Pour Toujours, les Canadiens!. The $6 million film will open across Quebec on at least 100 screens on Dec. 4, 2009, 100 years exactly from the day the Canadiens was founded.“100 screens, 100 years,” noted Yves Dion, president of TVA Films, which will be distributing the film.Added Dion: “The film brings together our two great passions — cinema and hockey.”Former Habs Béliveau, Yvan Cournoyer and Réjean Houle were also at the press conference. All involved were at pains to underline that this is not a documentary but rather a fiction feature about a Montreal teen obsessed with hockey. Dhanaé Audet-Beaulieu plays the main character, William, a 17-year-old star hockey player at Collège Français in Montreal who is going through a rough time emotionally. His mother, played by Bonnier, is a nurse at Ste. Justine and is emotionally attached to 10-year-old Daniel (L’Écuyer), the boy waiting for a kidney transplant. William’s father, Benoit (Stéphane Jacques), hasn’t much time for his family because he’s too busy making a documentary about the 100th anniversary of the Habs, which is the plot device which will allow the filmmakers to include loads of archival footage.Though the main focus of the film is the fictional drama, there will be plenty of images from the history of the Canadiens, including everything from classic Habs goals to the Rocket Richard riot in 1955, and the film is being made with the full cooperation of the Canadiens and the National Hockey League. The real Stanley Cup will even make a cameo appearance.“I’m not a documentary filmmaker,” said Archambault. “My expertise is telling stories and the challenge is to mix the archival footage with the fictional story. The film is meant to show how le peuple Québécois are tied to les Canadiens.”
Guess I gotta see this when it comes out, eh?