Date of Lecture: Fall 1991 (exact date not known)
Denys Arcand is a director and screenwriter born in Deschambault, Quebec. He produced his first film, the short Seul ou Avec d’Autres (1962), while at the University of Montreal. After graduation, he began to work for the National Film Board of Canada. After directing several features and documentaries, Arcand came to international attention with his The Decline of the American Empire (1986). The film chronicled a group of Quebecois intellectuals who frankly discuss issues of sexuality, success, intimacy and aging. A hit on the festival circuit and with critics and filmgoers in the United States, the film won nine Genies, the “Fipresci” prize at Cannes Film Festival and an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film.
Arcand’s following film, Jesus of Montreal (1989) was inspired by an actor who auditioned for The Decline of the American Empire while portraying Jesus in a passion play (set on the slopes of Mont Royal) at night. The resulting film is a contemporary allegory that sets the institution of the Catholic Church against the original teachings of Christ. Jesus of Montreal won 12 Genie Awards, a Best Foreign Film Academy Award nomination, and the International Critics Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Love and Human Remains (1993), Arcand’s first English language film, is a dark comedy that examines a group of twenty-somethings as they search for love and meaning in the ’90s. Joyeux Calvaire (1996) further chronicles the drives and motivations of contemporary youth, while Arcand’s latest film Stardom (2000) stands as an ironic indictment of the fickle mechanisms of fame.
Image Courtesy MAX Films International Inc.