Open main menu

Martin Villeneuve (French: [maʁtɛ̃ vilnœv]; born March 13, 1978) is a French Canadian screenwriter, producer, director, actor, and art director.[1] He was nominated at the Canadian Screen Award (formerly Genie Award) in 2013 for Best Adapted Screenplay, for Mars et Avril, his feature film debut, and Quebec's first true science fiction movie. Villeneuve is also the first (and so far, the only), TED speaker to come out of Quebec.[2][3][4] He was formerly working for Cirque du Soleil as a commercial creativity artistic director.[5]

Martin Villeneuve
Photo of filmmaker Martin Villeneuve, April 2015.jpg
Filmmaker Martin Villeneuve in April 2015
Born (1978-03-13) 13 March 1978 (age 41)
Alma materUniversité du Québec à Montréal
OccupationScreenwriter, film producer, film director, actor, art director, writer
Years active2001–present
Partner(s)Patricia Summersett
RelativesDenis Villeneuve (brother)

Early lifeEdit

Villeneuve was born on March 13, 1978 in Bécancour, Quebec, the son of Nicole Demers and Jean Villeneuve. He was educated at the Séminaire Saint-Joseph de Trois-Rivières and later at the Collège Brébeuf in Montreal. He studied film production at Concordia University and graphic design at Université du Québec à Montréal. In 2002, he received an award from the commercial creativity agency Sid Lee[6] for the quality of his portfolio. In the years that followed, he worked as an artistic director with this agency and created award-winning advertising campaigns for several Cirque du Soleil shows, including Zumanity, and Corteo. He also found the name for these three shows, as well as for Guy Laliberté’s ONE DROP Foundation. When the agency (formerly known as Diesel) changed its name in 2006, Villeneuve had the idea for the anagram Sid Lee. He also directed numerous TV commercials for Cirque du Soleil,[7] in addition to music videos and documentary shorts.[8]


Villeneuve began his career as a writer and graphic artist in 2002. He has created the comic book La voix du tonnerre (Les 400 coups, 2004), as well as the two graphic novels Mars et Avril (Sid Lee & la Pastèque, 2002-2006), which were all released to critical acclaim and multiple awards.[9][5][10][11] In 2012, the feature film adaptation of Mars et Avril which Villeneuve wrote, directed and produced, was brought to the big screen with success.[12][13][14] This science fiction movie, starring Jacques Languirand, Caroline Dhavernas, Paul Ahmarani and Robert Lepage, was released in Canada in Fall 2012. Mars et Avril toured in 20 international festivals, starting with a world premiere at the 47th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Czech Republic, and received 10 nominations.[15][16][17][18][19] Martin Villeneuve was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards, and he also won an Imaging the Future Award at the Neuchâtel International Fantasy Film Festival in Switzerland.[8]

On February 27, 2013, Villeneuve gave a TED Talk about Mars et Avril at TED,[2][20][21] thereby becoming the first (and so far, the only) speaker from Quebec invited to this prestigious event that took place in Long Beach, California.[3] Prior to his talk, the opening sequence of the film was shown,[22] as well as a three minutes overview[23] of the steps leading from the green screen to the final images.[24][25][26] Villeneuve's talk, "How I made an impossible film," was released on on June 7, 2013, and a month later was added to TED's movie magic list, notably featuring directors James Cameron and J.J. Abrams.[27] His talk has been subtitled in 31 languages and viewed more than a million times. Since then, Mars et Avril has been sold to the U.S. and is now available on GaiamTV.[28] The movie is also featured on Amazon and iTunes in the U.S., Canada, Francophone Europe and the UK, among other digital platforms.[29]

In 2014, Villeneuve made his acting debut in his short film Imelda, in which he plays his own grandmother, for which he won the Union des Artistes’ Best Actor Award at the 12th Prends ça court ! Gala.[30]

In 2016-2017, he directed the first episodes of the second season of Real Detective for Investigation Discovery Channel and Netflix, starring Daniel Cudmore and Cristina Rosato.[8] In September 2016, it was announced that he was signed to write and direct a live action movie based on the Quebec cult comic book series Red Ketchup. The film will be co-written by the authors of the series, Pierre Fournier and Réal Godbout.[31] Among other projects, Villeneuve is also working with European comic book masters Benoît Sokal and François Schuiten on an animated fantasy feature film, Aquarica.[32][33][34]

Personal lifeEdit

Villeneuve is in a relationship with actress and singer Patricia Summersett since 2018, and he has one child from a previous relationship. He is the younger brother of filmmaker Denis Villeneuve.[1]

Selected bibliographyEdit

Graphic novelsEdit

  • Mars et Avril, tome 2 : À la poursuite du fantasme, photo-novel, photography by Yanick Macdonald, Éd. Diesel & la Pastèque, 2006[35]
  • La voix du tonnerre, comic book, illustrations by Daniel Svatek, Éd. Les 400 coups, 2004[36]
  • Mars et Avril, tome 1, photo-novel, photography by Yanick Macdonald, Éd. Les 400 coups, 2002 (revised version published by Diesel & la Pastèque in 2006)[9]

Selected filmographyEdit

  • 2019: The Crab: Prelude to Aquarica (short)[37]
  • 2016-2017: Real Detective, Season 2 (TV series, 2 episodes)[38]
  • 2014: Imelda (short)[39]
  • 2013: Martin Villeneuve: How I made an impossible film (TED Talks)[2]
  • 2013: The Mars & Avril Experience (Making of)[40]
  • 2012: Mars et Avril / Mars and April (feature)[41]
  • 2011: Two Immortals: Prelude to Mars and April (short)[42]
  • 2003-2013: Cirque du Soleil – Advertising & documentary shorts[7]
  • 2002: Jouisseland by Jean Leloup (short)[43]
  • 2000: Chrysanthème (short)[44]

Awards and mentionsEdit

  • 2015: Martin Villeneuve won the Union des Artistes’ Best Actor Award at the 12th Prends ça court ! Gala for his role in Imelda, in which he plays his own grandmother.[39]
  • 2014: Imelda won Quebec’s Best Short Film Award at Festival Images en vues, as well as a Special Mention from the jury in the category Best Canadian Short Film at the FICFA.[39]
  • 2013: Martin Villeneuve gave a TED Talk about Mars et Avril – Quebec's first science fiction film – at TED2013, thereby becoming the first (and so far the only) French Canadian speaker invited to this prestigious event that took place in Long Beach, California.[45][46]
  • 2013: Mars et Avril received nine nominations in Canada (four at the Canadian Screen Awards and five at the Jutra), including one for best adapted screenplay.[29] The film's music, composed by Benoît Charest, won the Felix in the category "Album of the year – original soundtrack" at the ADISQ Gala.[47]
  • 2012-2013: Mars et Avril was screened in more than twenty international film festivals among the most prestigious (Karlovy Vary, Mill Valley, FNC Montreal, Mumbai, Whistler, Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival, Sci-Fi London, etc.), and won an Imaging the Future Award at the Neuchâtel International Fantasy Film Festival in Switzerland as well as an honorable mention at the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival for "incredible post-production work."[29]
  • 2011: Applied Arts Award, category "Advertising Photography – Series" for the exhibition "Dieu(X) Modes d'emploi," at the Musée de la civilisation de Québec.
  • 2011: Grafika Award, category "Affiche culturelle – série" for the exhibition "Dieu(X) Modes d'emploi," at the Musée de la civilisation de Québec.
  • 2008: We Love Books: A World Tour | The Best in Independent Publishing and Graphic Design: Mars et Avril volumes 1 & 2.
  • 2008: Gutenberg Award, category "Books": Mars et Avril volume 2.
  • 2007: Nominee, Lux Award, category "Books": Mars et Avril volume 2.
  • 2006: Alcuin Society Book Design Awards, category "Prose Illustrated": Mars et Avril volume 2.
  • 2004: Nominee, Bédélys Award: La voix du tonnerre.
  • 2003: Nominee, Grafika Award, category "Books": Mars et Avril volume 1.
  • 2002: Honorable mention, Alcuin Society Book Design Awards, category "Pictorial": Mars et Avril volume 1.
  • 2002: UQAM-Diesel Award for the quality of the portfolio.
  • 2002: He designed film posters, most notoriously the one for Québec-Montréal showing the pictograph of a moose screwing a car, which earned him the Travelling Laurentides Award for best launching campaign.[8]
  • 2001: Nominee, Création Vidéo Award, Clermont-Ferrand Vidéo Formes Festival (France): Chrysanthème (short).


  1. ^ a b Martin Villeneuve: The Dreammaker, The Cozy Sweater Café, August 23, 2016
  2. ^ a b c “Martin Villeneuve: How I made an impossible film”, TED, June 7, 2013
  3. ^ a b Quebec's first TED Talk, article from Cult Montreal, June 7, 2013
  4. ^ Martin Villeneuve, First Quebec Speaker at TED Conference, QFTC Montreal, February 27, 2013
  5. ^ a b Festival du nouveau cinéma: Mars et Avril leaps off the page, article from The Gazette, October 5, 2012
  6. ^ Sid Lee website Archived 2011-06-20 at the Library of Congress Web Archives
  7. ^ a b Cirque du Soleil – Advertising on Vimeo, 2003-2013
  8. ^ a b c d Martin Villeneuve on IMDb
  9. ^ a b “Mars et Avril” leaps off the pages of graphic novels, BULB, 2002-2006
  10. ^ Cronenberg’s son Brandon, Villeneuve’s brother Martin debut in 2012, article from The Canadian Press, December 30, 2011
  11. ^ Denis Villeneuve’s brother Martin imagines future Montreal with ‘Mars et Avril’, article from The Canadian Press, October 26, 2011
  12. ^ An unforgettable ride through a futuristic Montreal, review from The Gazette, October 12, 2012
  13. ^ Mars and April // Mars & Avril, review from Variety, July 16, 2012
  14. ^ Mars and April, review from Screen Daily, July 13, 2012
  15. ^ Spend the weekend watching the impossible (and beautiful) Mars & Avril, review from io9, December 6, 2013
  16. ^ Out there down here: Sci-Fi-London 2013, review from Sight & Sound, May 27, 2013
  17. ^ Sci-Fi London 2013 Review: MARS ET AVRIL Deserves Greater Attention, review from Screen Anarchy, May 8, 2013
  18. ^ Mars et Avril directed by Martin Villeneuve, review from Exclaim!, March 21, 2013
  19. ^ Mars et Avril, review from eFilmCritic, February 14, 2013
  20. ^ 10 jaw-dropping images from the film “Mars et Avril,” and how the magic was created, article from the official TED Blog, June 7, 2013
  21. ^ A sci-fi film with a $2 million budget: Martin Villeneuve at TED2013, article from the official TED Blog, February 27, 2013
  22. ^ Mars et Avril – Opening Sequence (TED2013) on Vimeo
  23. ^ Mars et Avril – Creating the Visual Effects (TED2013) on Vimeo
  24. ^ Four TED talks every filmmaker should watch, article from IndieWire, September 23, 2013
  25. ^ 3 Things You Need to Make an Impossible Movie Archived 2016-03-05 at the Wayback Machine, article from Film School Rejects, July 1, 2013
  26. ^ Making an Impossible Film: How Director Martin Villeneuve Brought His Sci-Fi Drama to Life, article from No Film School, June 14, 2013
  27. ^ 10 talks about the making of movie magic
  28. ^ Mars et Avril on GaiamTV, September 13, 2013
  29. ^ a b c A futuristic tale of fantasy and desire, BULB, December 2, 2013
  30. ^ Imelda: A funny and moving short film, BULB, February 20, 2015
  31. ^ Red Ketchup on the big screen, BULB, September 21, 2016
  32. ^ Aquarica, BULB, May 15, 2019
  33. ^ Aquarica, Alta Plana, 2018
  34. ^ On the Slate: Item 7, Playback, July 10, 2017
  35. ^ Mars et Avril – Interviews on Vimeo, 2011-2013
  36. ^ Martin Villeneuve – Interviews on Vimeo, 2002-2004
  37. ^ The Crab: Prelude to Aquarica on BULB, May 15, 2019
  38. ^ Real Detective episode on Vimeo, March 23, 2017
  39. ^ a b c Imelda on Vimeo with English subtitles, September 8, 2015
  40. ^ 22-minute Making of “Mars et Avril” on Vimeo with English subtitles 2013
  41. ^ Mars et Avril on IMDb
  42. ^ Deux immortels : Prélude à Mars et Avril on Vimeo with English subtitles December 11, 2011
  43. ^ Jouisseland on Vimeo, 2002
  44. ^ Chrysanthème on IMDb
  45. ^ Quebec filmmaker gives a TED Talk, Martin Villeneuve on Bernard St-Laurent's show "C’est la vie" on CBC Radio One, June 16, 2013
  46. ^ Martin Villeneuve on TED Talks, Martin Villeneuve on CBC's "All in a Weekend", June 2, 2013
  47. ^ Benoît Charest: How music can set you free, BULB, December 2, 2013

External linksEdit