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Canadiens movie stars NHL legends
MONTREAL – The celebrations surrounding the Montreal Canadiens’ centennial anniversary will include a movie slated for release on the storied hockey club’s 100th birthday next year.
“Pour toujours, les Canadiens” (The Canadiens Forever) has begun filming in earnest and will include members of the Canadiens past and present.
The fictional movie features a 17-year-old college player and a 10-year-old boy who is waiting for a kidney transplant at a children’s hospital where his mother works.
The history of the Canadiens will be evoked in a number of different ways, including through the teenager’s father, a filmmaker who is preparing a documentary on the Canadiens’ 100th anniversary to the detriment of his neglected family.
“I’ve never been so afraid to tackle a project,” director Sylvain Archambault told a news conference at the Bell Centre on Tuesday.
The film has a $6-million budget and will continue shooting until mid-December.
“Between fear of failure and the pleasure I’ve felt making this movie and meeting all these people … it is the chance of a lifetime.”
Archambault and Jacques Savoie, who will write the screenplay, are well established in Quebec’s entertainment scene.
The pair walked away Sunday with a rash of awards at the Gemeaux, handed out for French television achievement, for “Les Lavigueur,” a miniseries based on the true story of a working-class family from Montreal that won a $7.5-million lottery jackpot in 1986.
The film, slated for release on Dec. 4, 2009, will include a number of well-known Quebec actors, including Dhanae Audet-Beaulieu as the teenager and Antoine L’Ecuyer as the hospitalized boy.
The movie will also include various current Canadiens such as team captain Saku Koivu and star sophomore goaltender Carey Price as well as Habs legend Jean Beliveau.
The players, both active and retired, will play themselves.
“I had five players yesterday (Monday) at Sainte-Justine Hospital,” Archambault said. “I had Carey Price, (Christopher) Higgins, (Mike) Komisarek, Francis Bouillon and Saku Koivu … everyone played themselves, but if there was one who will be more featured than the others, it’s Saku Koivu.”
Koivu battled back from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2001.
“In a context where he interacts with a sick child, and we know Saku’s story, who overcame enormous odds … it’s easy for him to connect with other people. I was amazed by the quality of Saku Koivu.”
As for Beliveau, Archambault says he isn’t sure what sort of role the 77-year-old Hockey Hall of Famer will play.
“I know at the end of November, I have three days of filming at Colisee Jean Beliveau in Longueuil,” Beliveau said.
Beliveau, known as “Le Gros Bill,” won 10 Stanley Cups as a player with the Canadiens and said he’s honoured to be part of the project.
“It warms my heart … to play a role in a film that has such a big importance for the organization, for the City of Montreal and fans,” Beliveau said.