The Montreal filmmaker refused to give up on Woman in Car

Getting funding for an independent English film in Quebec has been the biggest challenge, Vanya Rose said.

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Finding the funding to make films in Canada is a struggle at the best of times and it’s even more difficult to make films in English in Quebec. Ask Vanya Rose.

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She will be happy to tell you how difficult it is to get a feature film project in the language of Spielberg off the ground in la belle province.

According to the Montreal filmmaker, it’s a miracle that her first feature, Woman in Car, made it to the big screen. The intense drama about a woman on the brink of depression, which stars Hélène Joy of Murdoch Mysteries, opens at the Cinéma du Musée on February 25.

Rose — who wrote, directed and produced Woman in Car — had been turned down three times by SODEC. The provincial funding agency gave her feedback, so she was confident Round 4 would be a success. But that was not the case. They once again rejected the film and Rose thought that was the end of the project.

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“It’s so hard to shoot an English film in Quebec, let alone any film in Quebec,” Rose said in an interview. “It was almost impossible. (Funding agencies) mostly came in post-production and we had almost no money. It was almost impossible to get help. It’s a very difficult situation for Anglophones. We are a minority group here and there is (only) a certain amount of funding allocated to us. We therefore cannot exceed this amount. There must be a certain number of French films that are funded .

Next, Rose met local film insider Marie Potvin, whom she describes as “the unsung hero of Quebec cinema.” They had known each other since Rose was making short films and Potvin, who had worked at SODEC, had always been a supporter of the filmmaker. Rose considered retiring from acting altogether.

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Montreal filmmaker Vanya Rose looks in the rearview mirror of a car.  Her new feature Woman in Car is out this month.
Montreal filmmaker Vanya Rose looks in the rearview mirror of a car. Her new feature Woman in Car is out this month. Photo by Pierre Obendrauf /Montreal Gazette

Potvin asked what was going on with Woman in Car and said there had been arguments at SODEC over the merits of the project. Potvin said Rose should do the movie.

It was then that Rose decided to call Joy, who had worked with her on one of her shorts. She told the actress about the struggles she was having raising finance and Joy, who has a burgeoning acting career, said she would be happy to contribute some of her own money. Joy also connected Rose with Avi Federgreen, who is one of the go-to producers of Canadian independent films. He came on board as an executive producer, along with Joy.

“We had given up and I was moving on,” Rose said.

But even with funding in place, the project was on a tight budget, with Rose doing whatever needed to be done, often while caring for her then two-year-old son. (She has two sons, who are now 5 and 10.) She found places. She even found a Mercedes Benz for the shoot which she was able to use for free.

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We apologize, but this video failed to load.

Woman in Car centers on Anne, a wealthy widow who is about to marry David (Anthony Lemke). But dark secrets lurk in his past and this troubled history is rekindled when his stepson Owen (Aidan Ritchie) arrives on the scene with a mysterious Turkish woman, Safiye (Liane Balaban).

Much of the action takes place in what appears to be upper Westmount, a rarity for a Quebec film.

“I really wanted to showcase Montreal,” Rose said. “(English-speaking Quebec) has been so rarely represented in cinema. Of course, Montreal serves as a backdrop for American films, but we rarely say (when watching Quebec films): “Oh, people speak English in Montreal”. No one really shows this side of Montreal.

It was inspired by Edith Wharton’s novel The Reef, but Rose is quick to point out that the film has little to do with the 1912 novel.

“But what grabbed me (in the novel) at the end of the day was this idea of ​​the reef, something that you can’t get over,” Rose said. “Once a ship hits a reef, it can’t pass…and we have all those reefs. There are always these reefs: it can be a love, a career, just things that you can’t overcome.

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