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Fall 2011  December 5


Quebec, 2009, 76 minutes, docudrama. Director: Denis Villeneuve
French with subtitles

Polytechnique still photo

As the feminist slogan goes, “the personal is political”. The
Polytechnique murders of 13 women on Dec. 6, 1989, left an indelible mark on Canadian and Quebec society. Memorials protesting violence against women have become annual events. The killings also sparked a highly public campaign — led by parents of some of the victims — to
create a federal gun registry.

Two opposing monologues have defined the discussion around Dec. 6. Are abusive men products of a misogynist culture or was this the extreme, inexplicable act of a madman? Villeneuve, (Incendies, 2010) explores the tragedy from the point of view of the survivors, their families and the male students who witnessed the terror and were helpless to prevent it.

Based on interviews with witnesses and shot in black and white, Polytechnique thrusts the viewer back 2 decades to the frenzy of exam time at the University of Montreal.
The director had the support of the victims’ families and the
survivors to make the film, which may explain why he shied away from an in-depth psychological analysis. “They did not want to see a portrait of a killer,” Villeneuve said.

Following the film there will be a discussion lead by Keely Howard of Yew Transition House.


Website with trailer.


A fictional killer of women who is all too familiar. Review in The New York Times by A.O. Scott.


Genie Award 2010 for Best Achievement in Direction, and 7 others.


Alison Sawyer Law Practice
Barrister, Solicitor and Notary Public
4 292 Gower Point Road,
Gibsons, BC V0N 1V0