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Can you imagine that by the age of 30 you would write, direct, star in and produce eight movies, win the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, and make a music video for Adele that will be watched by three billion people? Impossible! Turns out, it is not. All this was accomplished by the French-Canadian genius Xavier Dolan. As one journalist remarked, “It’s like you set out to make everybody feel bad about themselves.”
As a self-proclaimed Slytherin, Xavier has always been ferociously ambitious. He wanted to make movies — or rather, tell stories — and didn’t wait for Hollywood to come to his doorstep. Instead, he dropped out of college and used the money saved from being a child actor in TV commercials to produce his first film, J'ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother). He contacted an actress he admired and asked her to play the role of the mother, to which she agreed. Later she said that his self-belief had charmed her and made her believe in his project too.
Xavier has never been shy to dream big. At 19, he submitted his debut movie straight to the Cannes Film Festival. Both the film and the age of its director caught the media’s attention. Journalists labelled Dolan as “enfant terrible”, a narcissistic prodigy. They tried to put him in a box and find similarities in style with other directors. But Xavier fought against labels and comparisons. For him, there are no rules, no boundaries. And young age is no reason to stifle the freedom of artistic expression. All of Dolan’s films are fearless, unique and bold. He tells relatable stories about young people, which makes him the true voice of a generation. The voice and heart that seep through the celluloid right onto the screen.
Upon winning the Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival for his fifth film, Mommy, Dolan addressed his peers: “A word for people of my age, my generation. Despite people who are entitled to their own tastes and will dislike what you do, some will dislike who you are. But let’s hold onto our dreams, because together we can change the world. And the world needs to be changed. Touching people, making them cry, making them laugh — there are no limits to our ambitions except for the ones we build for ourselves. In short, I think everything is possible for those who dream, dare, work and never give up.”