Montreal massacre movie creates controversy

A haunting and violent chapter in Canadian history is hitting the big screen. And raising controversy.

On December 6, 1989, a lone gunman, Marc Lépine, walked into an engineering class in í‰cole polytechnique in Montréal, asked the women to separate from the men, and, claiming he was fighting feminism, shot the women.

14 women were killed, and 10 women and four men were injured. A student witness of the murders was so upset by what he saw that he hanged himself several months later.

A film adaptation, Polytechnique opens on Friday (February 6) in Quebec, with a nationwide release slated after that.

The film is directed by Denis Villeneuve (Maí«lstrom) and stars Maxim Gaudette, of the Quebecois smash hit Les 3 P’tits Cochons, as Lépine. The cast and crew reported the emotional difficulties they had making the film.

The film received $3.1 million in funding from Telefilm Canada.

The forthcoming release has met with mixed reactions and controversy, from observers to surviving family members.

Another screen adaptation of a grisly event in Canadian history, 2006’s Karla, an American film production of the Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo story, met with criticism, hostility, and negative reviews. The notorious content of the case was one of the most disturbing in Canadian history: Homolka and Bernardo were lovers who raped and murdered three girls, one of whom was Homolka’s sister.

In contrast, the TV movie Mayerthorpe, about the events leading up to the March 2005 gun battle on a farm near Mayerthorpe, Alberta that resulted in the deaths of four RCMP officers, received a Gemini award last year.