Emerging Canadian filmmaker to watch, Marie-Pier Dupuis, brings emotion to her work

An alumni of the Netlfix/Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s Women In Post program, Dupuis opens up about her evolution as an editor, writer and director

Emerging Canadian filmmaker to watch, Marie-Pier Dupuis, brings emotion to her work
Emerging Canadian filmmaker to watch, Marie-Pier Dupuis, brings emotion to her work

Among the talented Canadians who worked on Sophie Dupuis' award-winning film Solo was editor and emerging Quebec filmmaker Marie-Pier Dupuis, an alumni of the Netlfix/Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s Women In Post program.

Dupuis' first short film, L'été des chaleurs (Heat Spell), was shot in 2022, with the narrative based on a true story connected to the filmmaker's own childhood memory.

"At that time I was having pretty bad anxiety, ... back in 2019 I was trying to sleep and I had difficulty sleeping, just anxiety running through my head," she explained. "Then I did remember that moment when I was a kid, ... my sister being stuck and locked in the car during a hot summer day and I didn't say anything ... because I was so mad at her that day, and it turns out that my mom had just [forgotten] about her."

"When I recalled that moment, I remember being very much mortified about [myself]. It was like having ... an adult look on something I had forgotten. ... At some point I was like, OK I've got to get this out of my head. I feel like doing a movie. I'm just going to take all these emotions and I'm going to put it in a movie. ... I just really felt like it was a movie that ... people could attach a lot of emotion to it."

'I never thought that I had it in me'

Dupuis' desire to become a filmmaker started when she was a kid, writing stories and creating characters.

"I never thought that I had it in me," she said. "I felt like ... it belongs to other people, but it doesn't belong to me."

As she got older, her love for cinema grew, graduating from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) in 2016. She admires filmmakers like Lynne Ramsay and Andrea Arnold. Thinking back to the films and filmmakers that really impacted her, Dupuis remembers getting "very mad" watching Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.

"I was like, why are you telling your story with chapters? Why is this not in the right order?," Dupuis shared. "It was the first time I was seeing a movie that wasn't classically, narratively speaking."

"Something that felt for me very weird and bad [turned] out to be like, 'Oh, no, this could be the way.'"

But Dupuis' favourite movie of all time is Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge.

"It is so fun. ... It is so self aware, it's cheesy and the movie itself knows that it's cheesy," Dupuis said. "It brings [up] a lot of emotion. I'm very much into emotion."

In fact, Dupuis' next project is a short film that will be a musical, a genre the filmmaker says adds another "layer" to a film, and "brings joy and emotion to the heart."

As Dupuis explained, when she did her first film she was "worried" and "anxious" that the financing institutions would feel like they made a "bad decision," because she had never directed before, and that the cast would feel like the "captain of the ship" wasn't "holding it correctly." But she does feel like she's in a different place in working towards a second short film.

"I feel like I belong, I feel like I am entitled to do it," Dupuis said. "I was so nervous about me not being enough that sometimes I would take what people were saying for granted, because I would trust them more than I [trusted myself]."

"Luckily enough I was surrounded by such a good team and such amazing people, and these people at some point they were like, 'No, this is not what you wanted to do. Remember that you wanted to do that.' ... So this is going to be a thing that is going to change."

Women 'shine' when given the chance

Having been part of the Women In Post program, presented by Netflix, a channel for professional development for mid-level women-identifying and non-binary creatives working in post production, Dupuis has realized "how strong [the] female voice is" in Quebec's film industry in particular.

"It's crazy right now, in Quebec, how female directors or female [directors of photography] or female editors, they have a thing to say and when they are given a chance, they shine so much," she said.

"I'm very hopeful that these different mentors or figures that we have are going to pursue this idea that what we're doing is taking a step in the right direction. ... I do feel that it's not just in terms of being a woman, but in terms of diversity, ethnicity, religions, we're all trying to take a step forward. We need to see somebody up there to know that there were all always people there."

Having one successful short film under her belt as a filmmaker, having worked on several others in a post-production capacity, if Dupuis could give her younger self a piece of advice it would be related to her self-esteem throughout the process.

"Stop trying to find your self-esteem in the gaze of other people," Dupuis said. "It can prevent you from looking at what you actually need to be looking at."