A visit from filmmaker Michel Brault

Michel BraultAs part of its ongoing Independents series, the Department of Film at York University will host Michel Brault (right), cinematographer, director and founding voice of modern Quebec cinema. Brault will present his film, Les Ordres (1974) a work about the October Crisis of 1970 on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7pm in the Nat Taylor Cinema (Ross 102N). Brault will also take part in a panel discussion titled, “The October Crisis: Thirty-Five Years Later” at 2:30pm on Thursday  in Accolade West, Room 004. Other participants in the panel include York professors Marcel Martel of the Department of History, Faculty of Arts, Gillian Helfield of the Department of Film, Faculty of Fine Arts, and Seth Feldman, film professor and director of York’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies.

Les Ordres appears regularly on lists of 10 best Canadian films. It blends fiction and documentary realism in a chilling portrait of what can happen to a liberal democracy when the stateimposes its power. The film tells the story of ordinary Montrealers who wake up to find that the War Measures Act ­ martial law ­ has been imposed on their city. Rounded up by the police and thrown into jail without being charged or given access to legal counsel, they face mental and physical torture.

“That all this really happened in Canada, and by order of none other than Pierre Elliott Trudeau, makes the film that much more chilling,” said Feldman. “Film has always been a very important part of the political and cultural dialogue in modern Quebec, so it’s only apt that one of the most important events in 20th Century Quebec be depicted in one of its greatest films.”

image from Les OrdresLeft: An image from Les Ordres

Michel Brault’s career began in 1956 at the National Film Board where he was one of the originators of the documentary style that later became known as cinéma vérité. He directed his first feature, Entre la mer et l’eau douce, in 1967 and his second feature, Les Ordres, earned him the best direction award at Cannes and four Genie Awards. He is equally well known as the cinematographer on some of the greatest films made in Quebec, including Mon oncle Antoine (1971) and Kamouraska (1973). Brault has received a number of prestigious awards including a Governor General’s award in 1996.

University of Toronto Professor David Clanfield, a scholar of Quebec film, will introduce Brault and a question-and-answer period will follow the screening. The screening and panel discussions are both open to the public at no charge.

For more information, contact Marcia Orlowsky, graduate program assistant, Department of Film, Faculty of Arts at ext. 55149 or e-mail orlowsky@yorku.ca.