The fabulous destiny of Imelda

The Fabulous Destiny of Imelda


While filming ten years ago the short film Imelda,in which he himself personified his paternal grandmother, the filmmaker Martin Villeneuve had no idea that this character would accompany him for almost a decade. After adding seven chapters to his series of short films over the years, the director is coming full circle with the release of a feature film, entitled The 12 works of Imelda. 

She has come a long way, Martin Villeneuve's Imelda (March and April< /em>) since the release of the first short film, in 2014. Initially, the filmmaker simply wanted to shoot a small film for his family, to pay tribute to his colorful paternal grandmother, Imelda, who died in 2012 at the venerable age of 101 years old. But the screening of the short film was “a big hit” in the Villeneuve family, which prompted Martin Villeneuve- to present his film outside the family circle.

“It was suggested that I show it to other people to see if this laugh -there was communicative,” says Martin Villeneuve in an interview with Journal.

“I quickly realized that people found someone from their family in Imelda. Everyone knows an Imelda. People always told me that the character made them laugh, but touched them at the same time. 

Awarded at festivals

The first Imelda has therefore made its merry way on the festival circuit, collecting a few awards along the way. Martin Villeneuve – who is the younger brother of Denis Villeneuve – followed up on the adventures of Imeldaby directing a second short film, in which Robert Lepage plays his father, then a third, with Ginette Reno in the role of his maternal grandmother.  

The feature film Les 12 travaux d'Imelda, which will be released on Friday, is based on excerpts from seven of the eight short films that Martin Villeneuve has shot over the years (including five in 2021). Divided into 12 chapters, the film retraces the last years of Imelda's life. Besides Robert Lepage and Ginette Reno, Anne-Marie Cadieux, Michel Barrette and Antoine Bertrand all play members of the Villeneuve family. 


Fact to note: Martin Villeneuve managed to shoot all the films in his Imelda series on a voluntary basis, thanks to the generosity of his technical team and his actors. . Government institutions (SODEC, Telefilm Canada) have always turned their noses up at the project.

” It's a project that was born from the desire to make a film with the means at hand, for fun, with friends, and it's always remained that, recalls Martin Villeneuve. This is one of the reasons why all these well-known actors have embarked on the project. The common denominator has always been pleasure. They all said yes because they wanted to participate in the project. 

Even if he imitates his grandmother since childhood, Martin Villeneuve has done his homework to try to deepen the character of Imelda as much as possible. 

” I studied the character for years”, underlines the filmmaker, who also wears several real dresses and hats of his great -mother in the film. 

« I tried to understand her, to enter into her intimacy. What a great luxury to give yourself the creative license to study a character from your family history! I did interviews, I read his correspondence. Beyond making the film, it was really interesting to be able to enter her life like this. » 

♦ The 12 labors of Imelda hits theaters October 28.