In 2008, a shocking incident left a deep impact on the Montreal community when a teenage runaway drove his car into the Rivière-des-Prairies river, just a few miles away from our home at the time. It was a story that raised numerous questions, many of which still remain unanswered to this day. When we came across the synopsis and subsequently watched the film, we were immediately captivated by the incredible yet profoundly sorrowful narrative, skillfully told by acclaimed director Vincent René-Lortie, who is a close friend. We’ve had the privilege of featuring several of Vincent’s films and music videos on Film Shortage, including “Sit Still,” “Simon Leoza – La Nuée,” and “Owen Pallett – A Bloody Morning,” each leaving its distinct mark on us. So, it was with great anticipation and a personal connection to the story that we dove into his latest film.


“Invincible,” inspired by a true story, recounts the final 48 hours in the life of Marc-Antoine Bernier, a 14-year-old boy on a desperate quest for freedom. In a touching tribute to Marc-Antoine, Vincent René-Lortie delicately portrays the tale of a young man yearning for independence and the extreme measures he takes to attain it. This powerful short film has already made a significant impact during its festival run and is now eligible for consideration at the 2024 OSCARS®. We had the privilege of sitting down with Vincent to discuss the emotional journey behind his film.

“INVINCIBLE” is inspired by a true story. What drew you to this particular story, and why did you feel it was important to bring it to the screen?

It was certainly an event that deeply affected me when I was a teenager. Marc was a very close friend, and when he passed away, I couldn’t understand why. At that time, I was convinced it was an accident, but I always had a feeling deep down that it was much more than that. Marc’s story was complex, and I knew it. For me, making this film was a way to get closer to this friend, to try to understand him, and thus get a better idea of why he had come to such a tragic end.

We’ve featured several of your short film/music videos on Film Shortage before, all incredibly captivating. How does “INVINCIBLE” differ from your previous work?

Yes, and I want to start by saying a big thank you for consistently supporting my work! ‘Invincible’ is a bit of a departure in many ways. It marks my very first venture into the world of live-action short films. It took me a good five years to bring this film from the initial idea to its first screening! It was a long and winding road, involving a lot of rewriting, and self-doubt. Unlike my previous projects, I deliberately took my time with this one, which makes for a much more personal film. It’s also a reflection of my journey as a filmmaker over the past few years. It feels like there’s a bit of the old me in there, but it also represents where I want to go as a director.

Invincible by Vincent René-Lortie on Film Shortage
Invincible by Vincent René-Lortie on Film Shortage

Marc-Antoine Bernier’s story is a deeply emotional and harrowing one. How did you approach the process of adapting and depicting his last 48 hours on film?

A lot of research went into the writing process. For me, it was always about understanding what had transpired before his passing – why he ended up losing his life. I knew that Marc had spent a wonderful weekend with his family just days before he ran away from his juvenile center for the last time. But I’d never quite grasped what had unfolded inside the center – that’s where everything took a dramatic turn. So, the idea of narrating the 48 hours leading up to that moment had always been what I wanted to do. To me, the film isn’t solely focused on the precise incident of his passing; it delves deeper into the ‘why’ behind this tragedy, exploring all the nuanced complexities that accompany it.”

Léokim Beaumier-Lépine in Invincible

The film explores the lengths a teenage inmate will go to secure his freedom. Can you discuss the challenges of portraying the emotional and psychological journey of the protagonist within the short film format?

It was the biggest challenge! To convey something as intricate within such a restricted timeframe (even though my film can be seen as a long short film, spanning around 30 minutes). Initially, in my early drafts, my film focused heavily on external adversaries that the character faced within the juvenile center. But as I conducted my research, I realized that Marc’s worst enemy was himself. It was challenging to bring this to the screen, but in the end, I believe it all came down to Léokim’s performance and how he shouldered the responsibility of this character, guiding the viewers through Marc’s story.

I still remember the day this incident happened (which was not too far from my home at the time), and the impact it left on the entire community in East Montréal. Can you tell us about your process in writing this story, and if you got the community and family involved in shaping up some details in the narrative?

When I decided that I might want to create a film about this story, I took my time to truly reconnect with Marc’s family and his friends. I wanted to make sure they were comfortable with the idea, but I also wanted to revisit their memories of Marc in the months leading up to his passing.

It was an emotional experience, spanning several months, and it continued as we approached the film’s production. It was crucial that those who knew Marc were actively involved in the process – if they wished to be. I also embarked on an extensive research journey, consulting healthcare professionals, including psychologists, and individuals from the corrections field, with the intention to fathom what might have transpired in my friend’s mind.

It’s essential to note that the film is inspired by real-life events, but it also incorporates elements from my own imagination. I didn’t have access to all the information because Marc was a minor, and his records were sealed. Once again, it was of great importance that both the family and close friends were fully aware of and embraced this approach to Marc’s story. To me, this film is also a heartfelt tribute to my friend, his vibrant energy, his love, and his inner strength.

Can you share some insights into the casting process and the selection of the actor who played Marc-Antoine? What qualities were you looking for in the actor to capture the essence of the character?

It took us a long time! I had been immersed in this project for nearly three years. The story had become deeply ingrained in me, and I was looking for an actor who could genuinely connect with Marc, someone with a similar energy, and an ability to emotionally connect with the story. Equally essential was finding someone who bore a resemblance to the real Marc. I often reflect on the story that Léokim wasn’t initially a top contender based on his photos. However, the moment he walked into the audition room, it left an indelible mark. He had such a profound connection to his emotions and an innate understanding of the character. A few weeks later, during our rehearsals, I shaved his head. It turned into an incredibly enjoyable and poignant experience. And it was during this time that, for the first time, we observed the striking resemblance to the real Marc.

The film touches on themes of desperation, hope, and resilience. How do you envision these themes resonating with viewers, especially those who may not be familiar with Marc-Antoine’s story?

So far, my experience with the audience has been truly moving. I believe that there are many people, of all ages, from various countries and diverse cultures, who connect with this story because they’ve encountered young individuals like Marc, or have even walked in his shoes in some way. Youth and the feeling of growing up while grappling with a sense of being misunderstood are quite common and universal experiences, irrespective of the language one speaks.

“INVINCIBLE” has qualified for consideration for the 2024 OSCARS®. How does it feel to have your work recognized at such a prestigious level, and what impact do you hope it will have on the audience?

It takes a long time to make a film and you truly never know if it’ll be selected for a film festival. So, it all feels quite surreal, to be honest. I’m taking it one step at a time, fully aware that the path to an Oscar nomination is a long and unpredictable one. We’ll see how things play out, but I’m deeply humbled to be among the qualified films. My genuine hope is that the film will continue to resonate with audiences as it forges ahead—a hope that it becomes a catalyst for meaningful dialogues on pressing issues, such as the mental well-being of children and teenagers.

The film’s delicate and emotive storytelling is complemented by its visual style. Can you discuss the creative decisions made in terms of cinematography and direction to convey the emotional depth of the narrative?

We owe a big thanks to my cinematographer, Alexandre Nour, for this. Alex and I have been working together for almost 6 or 7 years, perhaps even longer. He’s not just a colleague; he’s a close friend and my go-to collaborator. It’s quite likely that most of the projects you’ve featured were also his work. We share a deep understanding of each other’s ideas and sensibilities.

This project marks our return to short filmmaking since our school days, and we took our time with pre-production and research to craft the visual style. We aimed for an unhurried feel, avoiding an overly aggressive handheld camera approach, with a primary focus on character performance. Our goal was to achieve a realistic, contemplative look where lighting, or its absence, played a significant role. As for colors, they directly mirrored Marc’s emotions. When he was outside the juvenile center, we emphasized warm, comforting tones, but when he was inside, we strived to create a claustrophobic effect using darker and colder colors.

The film comes from a long line of successful short films from Québec, like Jeremy Comte’s “Fauve”, Marianne Farley’s “Marguerite” and “Frimas”, and Meryam Joobeur’s “Brotherhood”, just to name a few. In your opinion, what is it commonalty about these films that makes them so successful internationally?

It’s hard to say, but I believe Quebec has a vibrant film culture, and, in fact, a strong artistic culture overall. People here know each other, they support and encourage one another. There’s a thriving short film community, and a lot of credit goes to Danny Lennon’s ‘Gala Prends Ça Court.’ The language, perhaps, plays a significant role too. We’re a bit isolated in Quebec, being one of the few places in North America where French is the primary language. This isolation has fostered a distinct and unique culture with its own character.

Also, thank you so much for taking the time to ask me these questions and for your interest in the movie!

Thank you Vincent, it’s been our absolute pleasure and honour to be able to dive deeper into your film with you. Your work always stands out in its own unique ways, and we can’t wait to see what you got up your sleeve next!