Toronto on Sunday, Montreal the next day, then Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke and Quebec City next week. Without a doubt, Sophie Dupuis and Théodore Pellerin are off to a good start on their marathon of premieres and interviews. La Presse met them at the start of their crazy race, in a refreshment bar on rue Ontario Est. The two accomplices are excited about the release of SOLO in Quebec, and its “gala presentation” Sunday evening, at the prestigious Roy Thomson Hall, on the occasion of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). A “validation” for Dupuis who had never been invited.

However, Théodore Pellerin seems more nervous than the director… Does he doubt the reaction of the Toronto public? “I doubt all the time! It’s stressful to see a film at the same time as 1500 people in a room. I’m nervous, but I’m also very excited and I’m well surrounded. »

After their collaboration for Chien de garde, Sophie Dupuis became friends with Théodore Pellerin (she always calls him “Théo” during the interview). The director also wrote SOLO during the pandemic, with the actor in mind for the main role.

“Theo is a muse. I love his loving look at the characters he plays. At 19, on the set of Chien de garde, he repeated: “We have to love him, Vincent [an impulsive, violent and unstable teenager].” For me, it was a lesson to share, in my writing, this caring way of approaching characters. »

In addition to Pellerin, SOLO also stars French actor Félix Maritaud (Sauvage, 120 beats of hearts per minute), Alice Moreault, Anne-Marie Cadieux, Jean Marchand, Tommy Joubert and Marc-André Leclair (better known under his name drag artist, Tracy Trash).

SOLO tells the story of Simon, a rising star of the Montreal drag queen scene. When he meets Olivier (Félix Maritaud), the new recruit at the bar where he performs, he falls in love. Thus begins a love story that will quickly change into a destructive dynamic. In parallel with her toxic relationship, Simon’s mother (Anne-Marie Cadieux), a famous opera singer, returns to work in the country after 15 years of absence. Simon persists in trying to create a bond with this cold and distant woman. Disturbed by these two impossible loves, Simon will have to realize that he deserves better.

According to Sophie Dupuis, drag is an artistic gesture (“you have to be very versatile and talented to put on a drag act”) and also “a political gesture”. “There is something very liberating humanly. This art is based on humor, celebration, self-acceptance. Being in contact with drag queens for this film made me uninhibited in my vision of my body. My way of perceiving and exposing my own femininity; not to be afraid of the judgment of others. »

According to the two accomplices, drag uses the codes and archetypes of femininity to better deconstruct them. It is a satirical form that conveys a liberating message. Théodore Pellerin did an apprenticeship to play Simon in drag, starting with the basics: learning to walk well in high heels.

The 26-year-old fast-rising actor works a lot abroad. Pellerin will star in an Apple TV series about Benjamin Franklin and another from Disney, Kaiser Karl, where he plays the dandy lover of designer Karl Lagerfeld. However, despite international success, he keeps both feet on the ground. After creating a piece by Michel Marc Bouchard at TNM, in 2021, the actor wants to get back on stage.

But her greatest joy remains filming with her friend. “Sophie creates a unique workspace that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Not only because of our complicity, our friendship, but also because of the creative links she forges with all her collaborators. She loves people and listens to them. She is in constant dialogue with the team. She has the ability to put herself in danger. She never rejects the ideas of others. »

By presenting SOLO to the Quebec media, the director of the Quebec City Film Festival, Hugo Latulippe, had very complimentary terms for the talent of Sophie Dupuis. “He’s our own [Martin] Scorsese,” he said.

Does the filmmaker also dream of working in Hollywood? “I don’t hope for a future anywhere else. I have ambition, however, and so much the better if it happens. But I remain very attached to Quebec, to its culture, to its stories. I am happy to participate in its influence by presenting my films abroad at festivals. »

At 37, Sophie Dupuis’ career is still young. Each of his films takes place in very different universes. A Dysfunctional Family of Verdun (Watchdog); workers from a mine in his native Abitibi (Underground). Does she want to renew her universe with each new film?

“It’s not a choice that I make [to explore different worlds]. It is the universe that imposes itself on me to become an obsession. I discovered the art of drag, like many people, by watching the reality show RuPaul Drag Race. By hearing touching testimonies from candidates (about their experiences, their family, their childhood wounds), I realized the importance of drag in changing society. »