TED2013 speaker Martin Villeneuve studied film at Concordia University and graphic design at Université du Québec à Montréal. In 2002, he received a grant from the commercial creativity agency Sid Lee for the quality of his portfolio. In the years that followed, he worked as an artistic director with this agency and created award-winning advertising campaigns for Cirque du Soleil.
He found the name for three shows: Zumanity, KÀ and Corteo, as well as for Guy Laliberté's ONE DROP Foundation. When the agency (formerly known as Diesel) changed its name in 2006, Villeneuve had the idea for the anagram Sid Lee. He also directed numerous TV commercials for Cirque du Soleil, in addition to music videos and short films.1)
As an author, Martin Villeneuve has created the comic book La voix du tonnerre (Les 400 coups, 2004), as well as the two graphic novels Mars et Avril (Sid Lee & la Pastèque, 2002-2006), which were all released to critical acclaim and multiple awards. In 2012, the movie adaptation of Mars et Avril which Villeneuve wrote, directed and produced, was brought to the big screen with success. This science fiction film, starring Jacques Languirand, Caroline Dhavernas, Paul Ahmarani and Robert Lepage, premiered at the 47th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Czech Republic. Mars et Avril was released in Canada in Fall 2012 and toured in 20 international festivals. Martin Villeneuve was nominated for “Best Adapted Screenplay” at the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards for Mars et Avril.2)
In 2020 Jean Benoit directed a 14-minute documentary short about filmmaker Martin Villeneuve, featuring interviews with stage director Robert Lepage, illustrator François Schuiten and filmmaker Denis Villeneuve.
Among other projects, he's now working with European comic book masters Benoît Sokal and François Schuiten on an animated fantasy feature film, Aquarica,3) and on an original sci-fi movie with François Schuiten, titled Waternova.4)
Filmmaker Martin Villeneuve talked at TED20135) about Mars et Avril, the Canadian sci-fi spectacular he made with virtually no money over a seven-year stretch. In a charming talk, he explains the various ways he overcame financial and logistical constraints to produce his unique and inventive vision of the future.6) 7)
Martin Villeneuve's talk, “How I made an impossible film,” was released on TED.com on June 7, 2013, and a month later was added to TED's movie magic list, notoriously featuring directors James Cameron and J.J. Abrams.11) Since then, Mars et Avril is being referred to as the “Impossible Film”, has been sold to the U.S. and is now available on Amazon, U.S. iTunes and GaiamTV.12) The film is also available on iTunes in Canada, Francophone Europe and the UK, among other digital platforms.13)
Martin Villeneuve in an episode of “De qui ? De quoi ? Êtes-vous le contemporain ?” aired on February 4, 2015 on L’Aire libre.
Official “making of” Mars et Avril (22 minutes, English subtitled) released in 2013:
Mars et Avril – Interviews with the creators (2011-2013) in French (last one in English):
Martin Villeneuve – Interviews about his graphic novels (2002-2004) in French: