The Gauntlet / Tremplin Competition seeks Francophone filmmakers from English Canada - The Gauntlet
Photo courtesy National Film Board

Tremplin Competition seeks Francophone filmmakers from English Canada

By Miriam Johnston, December 1 2017 —

Tremplin, a competition for French-speaking filmmakers outside of Quebec, is opening doors for new voices to create professional Francophone documentaries.

The 10th edition of the competition launched on Nov. 28 as a collaboration between the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and Radio-Canada.

“We’re really creating a contest where we want to open the door for first-time filmmakers to propose a project to the NFB,” says Dominic Dejardins, executive producer of the Canadian Francophone Studio. “It can be quite intimidating if there isn’t an open invitation.”

Dejardins says that the contest is an opportunity inform young filmmakers that it’s possible to produce a film with the NFB as long as you have an idea with impact.

“It’s important for us to have new voices that tell us about the realities they’re living or things we need to talk about as a society that are not necessarily in the spotlight,” he says.

The contest is open not only to young filmmakers but also to anyone who has produced a maximum of one professional film or who has never produced a professional documentary.

“I encourage people to apply if they have a good idea. If they aren’t sure about their idea they can also contact us with questions or anything. We’re there for them,” Dejardins says.

One of the previously successful submissions to Tremplin was about a 105-year old grandmother named Aldéa Pellerin-Cormier. The English title of the film is A Sunday at 105, a documentary that Dejardins says broke the record for views on the NFB website and is one of his favourite winning documentaries.

“It’s full of generosity, love and quirky moments,” he says. “We have some strong contenders — documentaries by renowned filmmakers — but this is the one that people love to watch.”

Dejardins says that the NFB is really looking for a new, distinctive voice to bring impact to the big screen and help reinvent NFB documentaries to appeal to younger generations.

“We really try to go further, deeper and really have a personal voice and a distinctive voice,” he says. “We’re looking for people that really want to get involved in their story and bring their own perspective. We’re looking for very strong stories and strong storytellers.”

Although the contest is only open to Francophones outside of Quebec, the subjects portrayed are not necessarily about being a French-speaker in an Anglophone-majority province.

“They have a foot in both worlds and we feel more and more that they’re not interested in talking about being Francophone in a minority setting,” Dejardins says. “They tend to come up with subjects that are broader. The mixture of Anglophone and Francophone is actually part of the reality that they’re living.”

Tremplin gets about 30 applications from Ontario and Western Canada every contest. Out of those, six are chosen to work on a pitch with the NFB. An additional four are chosen from the Maritimes.

After the pitches are made, Dejardins says that two are selected to write a full script, complete some additional research and meet their subjects. If the NFB determines that the two productions are strong enough, they will enter production over the course of the next year.

“They’ll be temporary members of the Directors Guild of Canada, so it’s really a step in the right direction,” he says. “People [who enter this competition] come from different backgrounds, so as long as they want to do it in a professional context, we’re offering that opportunity,” said Dejardins.

Registration for the 10th Tremplin competition runs until Feb. 19, 2018. Information on registration and past winners can be found at Applications from Western Canada are assessed by the Francophone Studio in Toronto and winners will be broadcast on CBC’s Ici Radio-Canada Télé.

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