Antigone (2019)

The Greek tragedy by Sophocles gets a 21st century refresh as a drama about an Algerian refugee family relocated to Quebec in this tale that puts racially motivated police violence under a microscope. For this film in which the young Antigone (Nahéma Ricci) and her family are stricken by the death of her brother Polynice (Rawad El-Zein) at the hands of a police officer, director Sophie Deraspe took inspiration from the heartbreaking 2008 killing of Honduran immigrant Fredy Villanueva by police in the neighbourhood of Montreal North. When her other brother goes to jail, Antigone devises a plot worthy of the stage to take his place, which ignites a protest movement that echoes contemporary conflicts. Antigone is no stranger to grief, her family is headed by grandmother Méni (Rachida Oussaada) because her parents were killed in Algeria. However, Antigone uses her sadness to push for change and is propelled through a coming-of-age journey marked by pain, as well as bliss. As love finds her, both from her new boyfriend (Antoine Desrochers) and the teens who lend their support, the world around her changes. The greyness of the suburbs becomes suffused with soft light and the forgotten green spaces next to highways turn into hidden oases.

Review by Caitlin Stall-Paquet


Sophie Deraspe

Available on:




TIFF, Women's Stories

Canadian connection

Writer/Director Sophie Deraspe
Montreal, Quebec
Winner of Best Canadian Feature at TIFF 2019.