​TIFF Director Spotlight: Xavier Dolan is a 25-year-old filmmaking maverick

You’ve probably heard Montreal-born filmmaker Xavier Dolan's name.

He’s the 25-year-old director who recently took home the Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival for Mommy, a film that will see its Canadian premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this year.

Xavier directed his first feature, I Killed My Mother, in 2009 when he was just 20 years old, and followed it up with Heartbeats in 2010, Laurence Anyways in 2012 and Tom à la ferme in 2013. In his short career, he has directed an impressive six films, one of which is the 2013 video short College Boy: Indochine.

While Xavier has reason to feel proud of his body of work, he often battles with the fact that his age is so closely tied to his personal narrative as a filmmaker.

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In an interview with Brian Formo in 2012, the young director said, “I read a lot of these reviews where I try to imagine the journalist reading the review, and if he’s any older than 30 or 35, I can picture that person writing his review [patting] my head congratulating me for my homework, [saying] ‘you get a B-.’ I feel like age is always going to be an issue. I always ask the question, ‘what would the response be if that film was made by a 40-year-old male?”

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His masterful directing has earned the auteur a handful of awards. Xavier received the Claude Jutra Award in 2009 for I Killed My Mother, a prize granted by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television to the year’s best feature by a first-time director. Following his inaugural win, Xavier accepted the Canadian Screen Award for Best Achievement in Costume Design for Laurence Anyways in 2013 and the Cannes Jury Prize for Mommy in 2014.

On top of all that, he’s also an accomplished actor. Xavier has played parts in his own films, but he’s also portrayed a host of characters in other people’s works, like 2008’s Martyrs, 2010’s Good Neighbors, 2014’s Miraculum and the TIFF 2014 selection Elephant Song.

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