The Quebecois writer-director of Antigone has woven themes around immigration, belonging and women's empowerment in one heartbreaking film — which is also Canada's official submission for the category of best international feature at the Oscars.
Sophie Deraspe, known for her 2015 independent films The Wolves (Les Loups) and The Amina Profile (Le profil Amina) says the honour fills her with pride.
"Now, it feels like I am like an athlete representing the country, with many supporters behind me," said Deraspe. "It feels good."
The film is an update to the ancient Greek tragedy, Antigone, a "story of love and resistance" with a "strong female character," she says.
The movie, which opened this week in select Canadian theatres, tells the story of a struggling immigrant family in Montreal, with tragedy in their past and more to come in their chosen city.
Antigone, a dedicated high school student trying to start her life over in a new country with no parents, is forced to make difficult choices in the name of family versus freedom when a high-profile incident involving her brothers inspires a viral social movement.
"She's a young woman who stands against the law because of what she believes and she feels the written law of men and this system," said Deraspe. "She feels there's something that is not fair, not just."
The role was compelling enough that Nahéma Ricci, who plays Antigone, couldn't make it to the Whistler Film Festival alongside Deraspe to promote the film. She's already auditioning for new parts in Los Angeles.
The list of the ten short listed films for the Academy Awards Best International Feature Film will be announced on December 2019, with the final five nominees to be announced in January 2020.
Watch the CBC News interview with Sophie Deraspe below.