Award-winning GABRIELLE, an Authentic Québécois Heart-Tugger

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Gabrielle producer Luc Dery of micro_scope, Gabrielle director Louise Archambault, MIFF director Jaie Laplante at Regal South Beach
Opening this Friday is French-Canadian filmmaker Louise Archambault’s second feature film, Gabrielle (after mother and daughter tragi-comedy Familia) and the latest from Academy Award® nominated mirco_scope producers Kim McCraw and Luc Déry of Incendies (MIFF 2011) and Monsieur Lazhar (MIFF 2012).  

Gabrielle is a truly tender heart-tugger recently featured at MIFF 2014 in the Cinema 360° presented by Viendomovies program. Gabrielle (played by Gabrielle Marion-Rivard, a gifted singer with Williams syndrome in real life) yearns to strike out on her own and find love but is held back by her condition. Her situation comes to a head when she falls for a similarly challenged and dashingly handsome young man, Martin (Alexandre Landry), whom she meets through an arts and recreation center for individuals with special needs, Le Muses de Montréal, where they both sing in the choir.

Alexandre Landry and Gabrielle Marion-Rivard in Gabrielle
The two embark on an uncensored relationship, with no ulterior motives besides genuine affection, but encounter well-intended resistance from their families and social workers who fear they’re unable to handle an adult romance. The headstrong Gabrielle strives to prove them wrong with a few hurdles along the way.

Williams syndrome is a genetic disorder that often slows cognitive skills while increasing sociability and musical talent. The syndrome affects 1 in 10,000 people worldwide—an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people in the United States, and is known to occur equally in both males and females and in every culture.  

l to r: Gabrielle poster; Brigitte Hubmann (Téléfilm Canada), MIFF director Jaie Laplante, Joane Boyer (Quebec Delegate to Southeast US), & filmmaker Louise Archambault (GABRIELLE) at VeoCanada Happy Hour sponsored by Telefilm Canada and Quebec (The Standard Hotel, Miami Beach)
A rarely covered subject; not only involving characters with Williams syndrome, but also revolving around a developmentally challenged couple’s quest to have a relationship and explore their sexuality, proves to be a winner. 

Chosen by the selection committee at Téléfilm Canada to represent Canada for the 2014 foreign language Oscar race, Archambault creates a character whose zest for life, regardless of struggle, is inspiring and contagious and evidently part of the reason Gabrielle Marion-Rivard won Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards, where Gabrielle also walked away with the top award of the year, Best Motion Picture.

Gabrielle opens Friday, April 18th at Coral Gables Art Cinema, where director Louise Archambault is scheduled to join the audience immediately after the 7:00 PM screening for a Q&A via Skype (live) from Beijing, where she will present the film at the Beijing International Film Festival.  The following week, Gabrielle opens at MDC’s Tower Theater on Friday, April 25th.  —Tatyana Chiocchetti

Jaie Laplante

Jaie Laplante is the Miami Film Festival's executive director and director of programming. Learn more about Jaie on Programmers.