After getting nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Live Action Short Film category in 2013 for Henry, Montreal film maker Yan England does not disappoint with his feature film debut, 1:54. The film made a splash in French-speaking Canada, generating a wide debate in society about its main theme, bullying in schools and how to prevent it. The film also won awards around the world, taking two prizes at the Rhode Island Film Festival, including Best Feature. It got a special award at the Hamburg Film Festival and scored nominations at Chicago International Film Festival and Milan International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Released commercially in France and Poland, the film was also screened at Busan and Taipei and several film festivals around the world.
Set in a high school in modern day Quebec, 1:54 follows Tim (Antoine Oliver-Pilon), a bright and eccentric 16-year old, who spends most of his time with his friend Francis (Robert Naylor), who is gay and is constantly harassed by a bully at the school they attend, Jeff (Lou-Pascal Tremblay). Tim and Francis love chemistry and act weirdly to the eyes of the other kids, and even if the local authorities try to protect them from the bullies, the unwritten “no snitching” policy of the students, doesn't allow them to stop Jeff and his friends from torturing them. When Francis takes his own life, Tim decides to beat the bully at his own game, running, instead of denouncing him. When the viewer expects the film to follow a predictable path, the plot takes an unexpected turn, and its reach goes beyond harassment, exploring the issues of homophobia in teens and the relationships between fathers and sons. Regarding England, he worked along Jeff Daniels and James Spader in I, Witness and participated in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer during the 5 years he spent in Hollywood, but he never achieved the stardom he has in Quebec, where he started working as an actor as a child, participating in the show Watatatow for 13 years. He has a regular presence in local TV series and films and is also a radio personality in CKOI-FM, a Montreal FM station.