Manon Briand

Baie-Comeau , QC
Quebec CA
Lives in
Montreal , QC
Quebec CA

Director, scriptwriter, art designer. One of the rising stars of Quebec features, Concordia-trained Briand has her finger on the pulse of her generation of hip urban gays, lesbians, bisexuals—and even heteros—for whom sexual identity is an affair of the heart and as a political issue ranks up there with hairstyles. Her talent for sprightly narratives of sexual ambiguity and torch-carrying among the Plateau intello-bohemia came to critical attention with the prize-winning short narrative Les Saufs-conduits (1991, 56), about an unreciprocated male-male-female triangle. Her contribution to the stylish black-and-white episode film Cosmos (1997), by six upcoming Quebec directors, is one of the most memorable: “Boost” recounts a surreal urban journey in which a woman drives a gay buddy to the clinic in her broken-down convertible to get the results of his HIV test—never revealed, but everyone has a feeling.... With Briand’s first feature 2 Secondes (1998), more prizes came her way and the queer community festival circuit as well, moving into the big budget arena with this skilfully wrought melodrama about a dykey, washed up bike racer who finds fulfilment as a courier in Montreal’s mean streets. She also finds solace in an unusual friendship with an older (male) Italian bike repair specialist and eventually in the arms of an unidentified (female) heartthrob. La Turbulence des fluids (2002), was less queer and more star-driven (Pascale Bussières and Geneviève Bujold!), and its reception reflected the “second feature” syndrome, with some critics lying in wait with sharpened knives. All the same, the film is an imaginative melodrama about an international seismologist who finds tidal and human mysteries and (hetero-) romance in her home town of Baie Comeau (as well as her lesbian old friend still carrying a torch for her). Meanwhile an English-language TV biopic about the Toronto marathon swimmer Heart—The Marilyn Bell Story (2000) had allowed Briand to refine her directing skills as well as her interest in female bodies, athletic challenges, and sexual ambiguity. While she claims to have many unpublished and yet-to-be-produced scripts in her back pocket, the only one to find its way to the screen after Chaos and Desire was the heterosexual crime romance Liverpool, about a coat-check girl who becomes unwittingly involved in a kidnapping investigation. While elegant in its Nouvelle Vague references, the film went relatively unnoticed and was deigned "best suited to the small screen" by critic John DeFore (The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Sept. 2012).