Salomé Villeneuve Explores Childhood Memories in Nature in Venice-Selected Short ‘III’

·3-min read

Every frame is like a painting for Salomé Villeneuve.

“I love to plan images,” she says. “I love to dream them [and] I love to draw them before shooting.”

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Villeneuve’s short film “III” debuted at the 79th Venice Film Festival, where she competed as the only Canadian entry in Venice’s Horizons competition this year.

The 26-year-old filmmaker was hesitant to explore her attraction to cinema that she’s possessed since childhood. “It took me a very long time to assume that desire,” she explains.

As the daughter of Academy Award-nominated director Denis Villeneuve, it was crucial for her “to develop [her] own relationship to cinema.” She would watch every movie she possibly could growing up, finding inspiration from auteurs like Lynne Ramsay and Hayao Miyazaki.

“I love to pay attention to small details,” Villeneuve says about her filmmaking style. “For me, there are small treasures everywhere if you take the time to look, like a fly or just looking at the grass can be marvelous.”

What was the inspiration behind “III”?

I wanted to explore the intensity of the relationship with my brothers. I think I was fascinated to see how I could, at the same time, love them so deeply and hate them so viscerally in some instances. I was fascinated by the ambivalence of this relationship and by those moments that create conflict where one’s desire comes in direct contradiction with another’s. And I decided to explore all of this through the lens of childhood memories.

Is the setting similar to the one in which you and your brothers would play?

Absolutely. We were lucky enough to spend a few years of our childhood with our playground basically [being] the forest in the yard. We always had access to nature, and, for me, that was something so precious that I wanted to infuse the movie with; I find that those years were very formative to my relationship to living creatures and developed my sensibility in a way.

Do you have plans to expand your short film into a feature?

I don’t think it would be an expansion of this short film in particular, but I’m deeply attracted to living [things]. Whether it’s insects or animals, everything I’m developing right now is in relation to exploring the universe of living creatures; and I’m also still attracted to the perspective of children. So, it will not be directly related, but the same team will be a part of my future projects.

Do you feel any added pressure as a filmmaker because of your father and his reputation in the industry? 

I don’t think so. I think it would be bad for my creative process to always have this in mind. I think one thing that has been very positive is [that] it has forced me to accept that maybe I would not meet expectations; it’s forced me to liberate myself from expectations.

When I make movies, I’m just really absorbed by the universe that I’m trying to create, so it doesn’t take [up] mental space. I try not to take it into consideration.

What is your dream project?

One of my brothers is a biologist and he really wants to make documentaries to bring awareness to the animal world and the environmental crisis. I have no words to describe the joy that it would be for me to be able to direct a film with him or participate in a project with him about animals. That would be a dream of mine.

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