Marc Cassivi: When we look back at 2023 in Quebec cinema, we see that it was a remarkable year for women filmmakers. Monia Chokri won over critics and the public, in Quebec and France, thanks to Simple comme Sylvain; Chloé Robichaud (Happy Days), Sophie Dupuis (Solo), Ariane Louis-Seize (Humanist Vampire), Louise Archambault (The Time of a Summer), Anik Jean (My Mother’s Men), Miryam Charles (This House) have all shined, here or abroad. We have introduced measures to make more room for female directors and we are starting to reap the benefits.

Manon Dumais: It was time for the boys club to finally display “Bienvenue aux dames”… Since 2007, Equitable Directors have fought to achieve gender parity, which was achieved in 2021 thanks in particular to the support of Telefilm Canada , the ONF and the SODEC. That said, this achievement could be fragile; we must therefore not rest on our laurels. Furthermore, it is not only in Quebec that women shine behind the camera. Thirty years after Jane Campion (The Piano Lesson) and two years after Julia Ducournau (Titanium), Justine Triet (Anatomy of a Fall) became the third woman to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes. And what was the highest-grossing film in 2023? Barbie, by Greta Gerwig!

M. C.: There hasn’t been a more brilliant film for me this year – and I know you agree – than Anatomy of a Fall. And Barbie was ironic candy for those who also know how to savor second-degree feminism. Not only have the directors offered us strong films, but there are also themes that emerge from them and which demonstrate the importance of female voices in cinema. It was you who pointed out to me that toxic relationships were at the heart of many films in 2023. I think I finally understood the expression gaslighting [cognitive hijacking] by discovering the ascendancy of Félix Maritaud’s character on that of Théodore Pellerin in Solo. And the very definition of the narcissistic pervert is the character of Melvil Poupaud in Love and the Forests, by Valérie Donzelli…

M. D.: Several women have brilliantly illustrated toxic masculinity on screen, like Valérie Donzelli, who wanted her film to bring hope, unlike the novel by Éric Reinhardt from which she was inspired. Chloé Robichaud also explores it in Happy Days, where she depicts a toxic relationship between a conductor and her father. Also remember the scene at the beginning of Anatomy of a Fall, my favorite film of 2023, when the husband plays music loudly while his wife gives an interview to a student. Later, when an argument between the couple that he recorded is broadcast at the trial, we understand that he was jealous of his wife’s success. When it comes to a narcissistic pervert who can’t stand to see his fiancée climb the ranks of high finance, another boy’s club, the Wall Street analyst in Chloe Domont’s Fair Play, doesn’t give his place. Next year, we will be treated to the adaptation of Consent, by Vanessa Springora…

M. C.: You were talking about the success of Barbie. THE phenomenon of the year in Hollywood is certainly this improbable creature of marketing that is Barbenheimer. Two films at odds with each other, which opened on the same day, with great success: a tangy comedy about a doll, a biographical drama about the inventor of the atomic bomb. And yet, no doubt in part due to this marketing strategy, Oppenheimer exceeded expectations, and Barbie became one of the most popular films of all time. Proof that we are not impervious to advertising… And that to rekindle the public’s love for cinemas, sometimes all it takes is a spark.

MD: Ah! this Barbie who so joyfully shook the cage of the supporters of the patriarchy! The Barbenheimer phenomenon is an absolutely fantastic publicity stunt which vividly proves that, despite the success of multiple platforms, theatrical cinema is not dead. However, the promotional tours for both films had to come to an abrupt halt when Hollywood actors and actresses went on strike two months after the screenwriters did, resulting in filming being halted and the releases of the films being postponed. films, including Denis Villeneuve’s much-anticipated Dune sequel, Dune: Part Two. Hopefully this long wait will make spectators want to rush to the cinema. Strike, not strike, the public’s disinterest in the universe of Marvel and other superheroes is more and more marked. What should dear old Marty be happy about?

M. C.: Scorsese should stop picking on Marvel, especially without having seen the films. Cinema remains what we want to do with it. That said, he is right to deplore the space occupied in popular culture and movie theaters by the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), which has lost its way in its own multiverse. By diluting its overly complex plots in endless sequels, prequels and TV series, the MCU is in the process of overcoming the enthusiasm of the general public. Superhero films now cause people to shrug their shoulders, having acted on the Hollywood landscape like a steamroller that crushes everything in its path. Fortunately, there are flowers that grow through the asphalt (if you’ll allow me this excess of metaphors): Killers of the Flower Moon is a tour de force and Scorsese is still at the top of his game at 82 years old.

M. D.: Since 2019, Martin Scorsese has been blasting the MCU and this year, he added another layer by saying that these films were prefabricated as if they had been created by artificial intelligence (AI). He is not the only one to fear AI: screenwriters as well as Hollywood actors and actresses have demanded guarantees on the use of AI during their strike. Even though I suffer from “Marvel fatigue”, I find it a shame that The Marvels, directed by a black woman, Nia DaCosta, and featuring three superheroines, one of whom is African-American and another Canadian-Pakistani, has experienced the worst box office start in the MCU. On the one hand, this means it’s time to move on to another call; on the other hand, this means that women still have many struggles to face in the wonderful world of cinema.