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How ‘Antigone’ Director Sophie Deraspe Updated a 2000-Year-Old Heroine for the 21st Century

”I read ‘Antigone’ when I was in my early 20s and at that time I didn’t know I would make films but it really struck me,“ director Sophie Deraspe tells TheWrap’s Steve Pond

“Antigone” writer, director and cinematographer Sophie Deraspe discussed the inspiration for her film which was drawn from Sophocles’ tragedy at The Wrap screening series which took place on Monday at The Landmark in Los Angeles.

“I read ‘Antigone’ when I was in my early 20s and at that time I didn’t know I would make films but it really struck me,” Deraspe told TheWrap’s Steve Pond. “I was a student in literature and as a young woman it really felt like there is a character that I can totally relate to that is strong, intelligent and she stands up against what she feels is either unfair or unright. That spoke a lot to me at that time.”

Deraspe said the “Antigone” stayed in the corner of her heart and my head until many years later, when a tragedy that happened in Montreal that made her question what Antigone would do in such a situation with her two brothers. “It came really fast, the structure of the script, and I had to work a lot to put the meat on it,” she said. “The first structure hit me because of the tragedy that is similar to one that happens to Antigone’s brother in the film.”

When Pond asked Deraspe if she thought of Antigone as a 21st-century heroine, Deraspe responded, “When I first read it I was amazed by the fact that such a female character was written more than 2000 years ago so it meant that female empowerment was not something of just today.”

A straight-A student and model citizen, Antigone oversteps the law when she helps her brother escape from prison. The vice-grip tightens around her as she stands up to authorities: the police, the law, the penal system and the father of her friend Haemon. Antigone’s refusal to compromise her personal sense of justice wins the support of her peers, who mobilize on social networks and at colorful protests. Rejecting the offer meant to secure her future, Antigone instead chooses love and loyalty to her immigrant family.

“Antigone” premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and will represent Canada in the best international feature film Oscar race this season.