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Incendies 2010



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The search began at the opening of their mother's will.

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About the Incendies 💬

"Nothing means more than being together."

When notary Jean Lebel (Rémy Girard) sits down with Jeanne and Simon Marwan (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette) to read them their mother's will Nawal (Lubna Azabal), the twins are stunned to receive a pair of envelopes - one for the father they thought was dead and another for a brother they didn't know existed.

In this enigmatic inheritance, Jeanne sees the key to Nawal's retreat into unexplained silence during the final weeks of her life. She immediately decides to go to the Middle East to dig into a family history of which she knows next to nothing.

Simon is unmoved by the posthumous mind games of a mother who was always distant and cold. However, the love he has for his sister is strong, and he soon joins her in combing their ancestral homeland in search of a Nawal who is very different from the mother they knew.

With Lebel's help, the twins piece together the story of the woman who brought them into the world, discovering a tragic fate forever marked by war and hatred as well as the courage of an exceptional woman...


Q: How did you discover Wajdi Mouawad's play and what were your first impressions?

Denis Villeneuve: The same impression as when I first saw Apocalypse Now - astonished. The play was staged in a very small theatre - Le Théâtre des 4 Sous. I was sitting in the second row, as I'd bought the last tickets for the final performance. The script was like a punch in the jaw and I emerged from the theatre on shaky knees. Right away I knew I was going to make it into a movie.

Q: The movie is visually sumptuous and truly cinematic. How did you foresee that the play had such visual potential?

Denis Villeneuve: Incendies has a script like a great classical composer's score: it directly inspires striking images. Moreover, Wajdi's staging is riddled with very powerful theatrical images, of a rare beauty. I couldn't use them because they belonged to the theatrical alphabet, but I was able to go back to their source and translate them into film language. Wajdi provided me some helpful keys.

Q: How were you able to convince Wajdi that it was indeed possible to transfer INCENDIES from the stage to the screen?

Denis Villeneuve: Wajdi agreed to lend me Incendies after reading the rough draft of about fifty pages I sent him. He gave me the best present possible - creative freedom. He simply gave me carte blanche. I think it is the only way to do a successful adaptation. The author has to allow you to make your own errors.

Q: Neither the film nor the play explicitly names the Middle Eastern country where the story is set. Can you comment on this?

Denis Villeneuve: Beirut or Daresh? This question haunted me throughout the process of adapting the script to the screen. I decided to follow the play's lead and set my film in an imaginary space like Costa Gavras's "Z" so as to free it from any political bias. The film is about politics but is also apolitical. The play's purpose was to delve into the subject of anger and not to fuel such anger. And the setting of Incendies is a historical minefield.

Q: INCENDIES is dramatic to the point of being almost operatic. The boldness actually makes the material truly tragic and elevating, rather than hopelessly sad and melodramatic. What inspired you to make a film where emotions are played so strongly?

Denis Villeneuve: To transpose such a dramatic text to the screen while avoiding melodrama, I opted for the sobriety of raw realism, while retaining the mythological factor in the play via natural light and shadows. Emotion had to avoid being an end in itself but a means of achieving the catharsis effect sought. INCENDIES is also Jeanne and Simon's journey towards the source of their mother's hatred. This is a very universal quest and it touches me deeply. But I admit that it took a long time to achieve the film's dramatic balance in the screenplay. Each sequence could have inspired a feature film!

Q: Viewers with little or no background on the politics of religion in this unnamed Middle Eastern country in INCENDIES may find it sometimes difficult to figure out whose side Nawal Marwan really is on. In many scenes, your visual language pervades, even more, a sense of vagueness and unfamiliarity. Somehow, the unknown and lack of knowledge plays to the film's advantage. Can you comment on that?

Denis Villeneuve: I deliberately created a political maelstrom around Nawal. The wars that have wracked this region sometimes involved as many as 17 different factions with alliances and betrayals of a baffling complexity for neophytes. To remain faithful to this reality, the political situation had to remain complex without undermining the storyline. Viewers of the film need to understand the gist of what can be understood while accepting that the situation has become too complex to be boiled down to black and white.

Incendies Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Denis Villeneuve

Writing Credits

Denis Villeneuve (Screenplay)

Valérie Beaugrand-Champagne (Collaboration)

Wajdi Mouawad (Play)


Maxim Gaudette

Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin

Rémy Girard

Lubna Azabal

Dominique Briand

John Dunn-Hill

Hamed Najem

Ahmad Massad

Bader Alami

Majida Hussein

Nabil Koni

Baraka Rahmani

Rasmeyeh Leftey

Abdelghafour Elaaziz

Allen Altman

Baya Belal

Mohamed Majd

Music by

Grégoire Hetzel

Cinematography by

André Turpin

Categories: Oscars, Oscar Academy Award Nominee, EEBAFTAs, BAFTA Award Nominee

Genres: Drama, Mystery, War

Countries: Canada, France

Incendies Official Trailer

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