Vincent René-Lortie calls it the "craziest morning" of his life.
The Montreal director's Invincible was nominated Tuesday for an Oscar in the live-action short film category.
"I don't think we really believed that this would happen, given that all the films are so strong and we're just a small, independent film from Montreal," he said, after he and members of his team held a news conference on Tuesday.
"It's so surreal."
René-Lortie graduated from Concordia University six years ago. He then started his own production company, Telescope Films.
The short film Invincible, which was released in 2022, is his company's first.
The actor Léokim Beaumier-Lépine is seen here during a scene in Invincible. (H264 Distribution)
For René-Lortie, the Oscar nod is a case of hard work — and patience — paying off. Invincible took nearly five years to complete. It was also inspired by the true story of the director's childhood friend, who died when he was 14.
"We definitely took our time," said the director. "We put a lot of love and so much work into that project."
The film will be competing against four others in its category, including Wes Anderson's The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.
The 96th Academy Awards will take place on March 10, broadcasting on ABC. This year's ceremonies will start an hour earlier than previous years, with the show beginning at 7 p.m. ET. They will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, in his second consecutive year and fourth time total.
Élise Lardinois and Samuel Caron say recognition for their work feels good, even though they didn't think about that while helping to create the short film Invincible. (Charles Contant/CBC)
'It's really special'
Samuel Caron, a producer on the film, said he's grateful that a film created by people who are in the early stages of their careers is getting its time in a major spotlight.
"The great part about that kind of recognition is how it can help our future projects and future stories we want to share," Caron said.
Élise Lardinois, who is originally from Belgium and also worked as a producer for Invincible, said she was by the director's side for every step of the production process.
"It was not about recognition when we made it," Lardinois said. "But now that we're here, it's really special."
WATCH | The trailer for Invincible: