Michka Saäl


1993, Fiction, 35 minutes, english, french, italian

Credits    Screenings Backstory



Between two cities and two women, a missed rendez-vous, a misunderstanding, a successful breakfast. And a night to talk from the heart and from the body, and how each sometimes hurts the other.



Written and directed by Michka Saäl


Image: Carlos Ferrand

Sound: Pierre Bertrand

Editor: Jeanne Peduzzi

Music: Charmaine Leblanc


Production: Canadian Film Centre


With Sabrina Berreghis, Jean-Émery Gagnon, Amanda Tapping

tragedia.contact sheet 3_001.jpg






How to kiss…  Photo: Karen Hernandez

How to kiss…

Photo: Karen Hernandez

Italian icing

The first third of the film, “Surviving Suicide”, will be in English until UGO finds out that LEA is French. The second third of the film, “Talking about Sex and Making Love”, will be in French. The last third of the film, “Ann’s Return”, will be in English. The whole film will have some icing in Italian whenever UGO is shocked, amused or moved….”

Original scenario, 1992

Our Daily Bread, Our Daily Pain

Initially, Michka was lost within the anglophone environment of the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto. She essentially learned to speak English during the making of Tragédia. Perhaps that’s why she liked playing with language in the film, especially the word “pain”, which a francophone would understand as “bread”. Near the end of this film filled with misunderstanding, the anglophone character realizes the double sense of the word and mutters nervously, "Our daily 'pain', our daily bread." 

Mark Foss, delegated producer for New Memories and Mavericks, 2018

Michka Saäl and Pierre Bertrand, 2014

Michka Saäl and Pierre Bertrand, 2014

Stranger in a strange land

I remember watching Michka on set a lot. She was amazing, as usual. A mixture of an unimposing, almost shy woman speaking English in a quiet and discreet series of hesitant sentences. Yet, her feet planted solidly in the ground, she moved forward, her confidence nourished by the certainty that she was surrounded by a technical and logistical crew that she had hand-picked and could trust completely. She spent lots of time with the actors, infusing them with how she wanted to blend and reconcile conflicting world views in this simple story. “Daily Bread” and “Daily Pain” become one. Worlds intertwine subtly; sense comes from what the spectator takes and distills himself. There’s Toronto, Montreal, and a bunch of Tunisia in there. I love this film.

Pierre Bertrand, Sound, 2018

Carlos Ferrand and Michka Saäl shooting Tragedia in Toronto.  Photo: Karen Fernandez

Carlos Ferrand and Michka Saäl shooting Tragedia in Toronto.

Photo: Karen Fernandez

Red is the warmest colour

“We connected because we were both immigrants from the Third World. I was attracted by her Jewishness, her Tunisian background, how she lived in Paris and came to Quebec. She brought the Other with her. It was rare. Our Peruvian and Tunisian aesthetics met in the filming of Tragédia. We were in Toronto – anglo country – and were expecting to be told that we were “too much”. Goethe says the western world is afraid of colour, it is a wild horse that cannot be tamed. But Michka was exuberant. She loved colour, expressiveness and emotion. She was fearless. There was one scene where the lighting was entirely red. She was the opposite of austerity. I loved her scarves, her rings, and necklaces, the colour of her hair. I felt at home next to her. She is one of the few people I think of as a “cousin”.

Carlos Ferrand, Director of photography, 2018