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Denys Arcand

Arcand at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival
Born June 25, 1941 (1941-06-25)
Deschambault, Quebec, Canada
Occupation Film director
Years active 1962 - present
Spouse(s) Denise Robert (?-present)

Georges-Henri Denys Arcand, CC, CQ (June 25, 1941) is an Academy Award-winning Canadian film director, screenwriter and producer.

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Early life

Arcand was born in Deschambault, Quebec, Canada. He grew up in a devoutly Roman Catholic home in a village about 25 miles southwest of Quebec City. He attended Jesuit school for nine years. Entering his teen years, the family moved to Montreal and although he dreamed about being a professional tennis player, while studying for a Masters Degree in history at the Université de Montréal he became involved in film making that gave him a new sense of direction. During his university days, he and several friends would drive to New York City every few months to take in European films playing there that were not available in Quebec.

Career

In 1963, he joined the National Film Board of Canada where he produced several award-winning documentaries in his native French language. A social activist, he made a feature-length documentary in 1970 titled On est au coton (We work in Cotton) that showed the exploitation of textile workers. The film caused an uproar that resulted in it not being distributed publicly for several years. Arcand received such publicity that it gave his fledgling career a great boost. He also worked on some television series, notably Duplessis, a historical work he wrote (but did not direct) about Premier Maurice Duplessis.

During the early part of the 1970s Arcand produced a number of feature films that received critical acclaim. Arcand returned to directing documentaries and did no work for television. In 1982, his documentary, Le confort et l'indifférence won the Best Film prize from the Quebec Film Critics' Association. In 1986 he wrote and directed what was until then the highest grossing film in Quebec (and Canadian) history, The Decline of the American Empire (Le Déclin de l'empire américain). At the Canadian Genie Awards, it captured best film, best director, and best writer of an original screenplay. It also won the "International Critics Prize" at the Cannes Film Festival and became the first Canadian feature film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Three years later Arcand repeated this award-garnering performance with his widely acclaimed 1989 film Jésus de Montréal (Jesus of Montreal) winning the same three Genie awards, plus the "Jury Prize" at Cannes.

Arcand produced and directed his first English language film in 1993, titled Love and Human Remains, and did so again in 2000, with the film, Stardom, which opened the Toronto International Film Festival. He then spent two years writing the script for what many claim is his finest piece of cinematic writing to date, The Barbarian Invasions (Les invasions barbares). Released in 2003, the film won Arcand the Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival, was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Foreign Language Film and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In addition, Denys Arcand was nominated for an Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay.

The Barbarian Invasions won France's 2004 César Award for Best Picture and Best Director plus the César Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Arcand's film Days of Darkness (L'âge des ténèbres) was chosen to close the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.[1] The press opening was subdued, as opposed to receiving a standing ovation as with The Barbarian Invasions and the subsequent reviews were mixed.[2]

Awards

In 1988, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Companion in 2005. In 1990 the Government of France awarded him the Legion of Honour. He finally earned from his home province one of its highest distinctions, the title of Knight of the National Order of Quebec, in 2000. In February 2004, the government of France named Denys Arcand a Commander of L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, that nation's highest cultural honour. In 2004 Arcand was also inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.[3]

Personal life

Married a second time, neither Arcand nor Denise Robert, his producer/wife, have had children. He was 55 years old when they adopted an orphaned baby girl from China named Mingxia. His brother Bernard Arcand (1945-2009) was a Professor of anthropology. His youngest brother Gabriel Arcand (b. 1949) is a noted Canadian actor. Denys Arcand is a lapsed Catholic.

Filmography

(As director, unless mentioned)

Further reading

  • Michel Coulombe, Denys Arcand. La vraie nature du cinéaste, (entretiens), Montréal: Boréal 1993
  • André Loiselle, Brian McIllroy (éd.), Auteur/Provocateur. The Films of Denys Arcand, Westport: Praeger 1995

References

External links








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