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Born: Deschambault, Québec, Canada, 1941.

Denys Arcand (JPG, 16 KB)

A political and social activist from early youth, he contributed to the review Parti Pris before studying history at the University of Montréal. It was at the university that he directed his first film, the feature-length Seul ou avec des autres (1962), in collaboration with Denis Héroux and Stéphane Venne. In 1963, he joined the National Film Board for which he directed a number of documentary shorts, notably a trilogy about colonial Québec. But his first full-length documentary, On est au Coton (1970), an exposé of the exploitation of textile workers, aroused a controversy that resulted in the shelving of the film until 1976. Moving on to fiction features in the 70s, Arcand gained respect for the quality of his work; but it wasn't until the late 80s that he made an international impact with The Decline of the American Empire, a witty, irreverent satire that won the International Critics Prize at Cannes in 1986. He made an even greater impression with Jesus of Montréal, an audacious, wickedly funny burlesque of contemporary life, for which he won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 1989.

— Ephraim Katz, The Film Encylopedia

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This page was last updated on 23 July 2000.