CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 39. . . .June 11, 2010
My Future Self.
Bachir Bensaddek. (Writer & Director). Johanne Bergeron & Yves Bisaillon (Producers). Yves Bisaillon (Executive Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2008.
88 min., 13 sec., DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153E 9909 053.
Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.
Review by Joanne Peters.
There are lunatics who would give anything to their existence each night, just for the applause.
My Future Self is the story of 13 such "lunatics," students at the Conservatoire d'art dramatique de Montréal (the Montreal School of the Performing Arts). This 88 minute documentary follows the professional lives of 10 students in their graduating year, two young hopefuls who are auditioning for entrance to the Conservatoire, and one who has commenced an acting career. Entrance to the Conservatoire is hugely competitive. Of the more than 600 applications received, 24 students are accepted, and five to ten years later, only seven or eight are "still in the game."
Over the course of an academic year, we listen to the students' perspectives on life on the stage. We watch rehearsals where the students are criticized, sometimes gently, and sometimes, mercilessly. They are enjoined to give it everything they have, and more. The producer of the documentary, Bachir Bensaddek, also provides us with insights into the students' personal lives: we watch them bicycling to and from school, we see the economies of student life – the grilled cheese sandwiches, the part-time jobs in grocery stores and fast-food joints - and the hopeful talk of the combination of summer theatre work with a bit of vacation thrown in. But, we also listen to their philosophies of art, drama, and life, and their optimism in the face of an existence full of transience, and sometimes, profound disappointment.
There is also the incredible optimism of the two young candidates for admission. They come from rural Quebec, a hugely different existence from the hurly burly of urban Montreal. Although undeniably proud of their children's talents, their parents worry about the lack of financial security and the peripatetic life of in the world of art
As the academic year progresses, the final term arrives for the graduating class, and with it, their final performance. Rehearsals are over, and now, it's show time. The student actors undergo wardrobing, make-up, and some are shorn of their hair, a necessary sacrifice for their art. Friends, families, and colleagues attend the performance of Peter Weiss' The Investigation, a drama set in Holocaust stricken Europe. In this final performance, there is such powerful emotion, we cannot believe that it is just a play. And the next day, when the reviews are published in newspapers, it is even more personal. But, learning to face criticism is a necessary experience, and with it, strength of character develops.
For the 10 who graduate from the Conservatoire, their graduation event is different from the traditional academic ceremony of caps and gown. For them, their future self is now their present being, and they step out onto a very different stage.
My Future Self was originally produced in the French language, and it is subtitled in English. The drama of the story transcends both languages. With a running time of nearly 1 ½ hours, it is a bit long for any but senior high school audiences. Length, language subtitling, and potentially interested viewers limit the film's intended audiences, but it is interesting viewing for those with an interest in drama, and in particular, a career in the arts.
Recommended with reservations.
Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.
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