The year’s highest profile Canadian movie, a guaranteed multiple award-nominee, has turned out to be Sophie Deraspe’s Antigone. World premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the Canada Goose Award for best Canadian Feature, Antigone headed for Oscar consideration as Canada’s submission in the Academy’s Best International Feature Film category, formerly known as Best Foreign Film. Apparently, Academy honchos thought there was something vaguely demeaning about the word “foreign.” Perhaps the designation “Canada Goose” should also be reviewed.
“Supple and impassioned,” according to Variety and praised in many other reviews, Antigone is an ingenious re-telling of Sophocles’ often performed tragedy, for instance a 2015 production with Juliette Binoche in the title role. In Deraspe’s contemporary version of the ancient play, Antigone (first-time actress Nahomi Ricci in a luminously mesmerizing performance). Antigone is a high school student who has a close, loving relationship with her family: grandmother Méni (Rashida Oussaada), brothers Étéocle (Hakim Brahimi) and Polynice (Rawad El-Zein), and sister Ismène (Nour Belkhiria). They are Algerian refugees from a mountain village where Antogne’s parents were slaughtered during civil war, and without citizenship, their status in Canada is shaky.