viking | The great return of Stéphane Lafleur

” Where were you ? This is the first question I wanted to ask Stéphane Lafleur. We missed the filmmaker. After three feature films, each more original and attractive than the next, Continental, a film without a gun (2007), On familiar ground (2011) and You sleep Nicole (2014), Lafleur finally returns to the cinema with a delightfully subversive dramatic comedy, vikingwhich will be in theaters on September 30.

Posted at 7:00 a.m.

What explains this eight-year hiatus? Stéphane Lafleur, who is also an editor, worked on the films of colleagues, in particular The Goddess of Fireflies by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette. Above all, he got lost in the twists and turns of adapting a novel (Baldam the Improbable by Carle Coppens) which was to be made by a friend.

“I got lost far in the forest, and the more I advanced in the versions of the scenario, the less I found myself! I took a wrong turn at the start and there was no way I would retrace my steps! “, sums up Lafleur, who worked in vain for five years on this scenario which will not see the light of day.

After You sleep Nicole, which he describes as a “film of wanderings and vignettes”, Stéphane Lafleur has considered giving up directing to concentrate solely on scriptwriting. No particular reason, he said, except that he had a feeling it was the right thing to do. He changed his mind after the failure of his novel adaptation project. “I knew that after Nicole, I wanted to make a science fiction film. But I didn’t know which one! »

He thought back to an exhibit by a French photographer, Vincent Fournier, which he had seen in New York 12 years ago and which depicted astronauts in the middle of a Utah desert. “While doing research, I realized that there really are people who do Martian simulations in the desert,” explains Lafleur. Then there was the Mars One project, which promised ordinary people a one-way ticket to Mars. Eventually it all deflated, but I wondered who was willing to make this sacrifice. »

The author-filmmaker was also inspired by a documentary on the probe Travel, of which a replica had been preserved in the laboratory in the 1970s, which had made it possible to solve certain technical problems. “I wondered what it would look like if we applied it to humans. I liked the idea of ​​this somewhat absurd and offbeat concept. »

He wrote a first version of the screenplay, then, burned by his experience of an aborted screenplay, he called on Eric K. Boulianne (prank, The Barbarians of La Malbaie) to support him. “I had the impression of having a rich and promising idea, but the more I saw all the possibilities, the more I felt dizzy,” explains Stéphane Lafleur, known for his quirky humor. So I asked Eric K. Boulianne to come on board to help me make choices. I felt that I was going to lose myself and I was not tempted to spend five years on this! »

Between aspirations and reality

The starting point of viking is ridiculously intriguing. David (excellent Steve Laplante), a physical education teacher, volunteers to participate in the Viking Society’s first mission to Mars. He will not be sent to the red planet, but will have to form with four other Quebec volunteers a team B of alter ego of real astronauts.

They will live the adventure for more than two years in parallel, thanks to a simulation in a remote bunker in an arid landscape of the American Midwest. Their confidential mission: to anticipate and attempt to remotely resolve the tensions, frictions and other interpersonal problems encountered by their “doubles” tens of millions of kilometers away.

And to the comical context is added a panoply of comic details: the Quebec B team does not travel by space shuttle, but by school bus…

It was important to me that the context be anchored in this economic reality. It’s a nod to our relationship with the United States. I wouldn’t have wanted to make a science fiction film that thinks it’s Dunes and go shoot in a sand pit in Joliette!

Stephane Lafleur, director

Without being a metaphor for the huge gap between the means of Quebec cinema and those of Hollywood cinema, viking is a dramatic comedy inspired by the schism between aspiration and reality. Also, for this complicated shoot – partly in a region that is difficult to access for vehicles and all the technical equipment, in Alberta – the team of viking had to show a great deal of resourcefulness, solidarity and ingenuity. “We had underestimated what a challenge it was. Just to design the helmets of the astronauts, we could have hired someone full time! It remains an ambitious project for the means we have. »

The musician

Speaking of headphones… If Lafleur the filmmaker hasn’t made a film since 2014, Lafleur the leader of the folk group Avec pas d’casque hasn’t released an album since 2016. “I’m starting to compose again. I ride a bike and start humming. There are tunes that are coming,” says the multidisciplinary artist, who considers himself lucky to be able to move from cinema to song.

“I would like us to record next year, if everyone is available. It would be my wish, but these things should not be forced. It would be fun to meet up with friends and make music. »

If the musician returns to service, should we expect another hiatus from the filmmaker? “I don’t think I’m going to wait eight years to make another movie. The decades pass a little quickly when you do that! »

viking will be in theaters on September 30.

viking | The great return of Stéphane Lafleur