Bernard Émond

Bernard Émond was born in Montréal in 1951. A trained anthropologist, he lived in the Canadian Arctic for a few years, where he worked for Inuit television. Initially a documentary filmmaker, he came to drama with a bittersweet feature film, La femme qui boit. Invited to participate in the Semaine Internationale de la Critique at the Festival de Cannes in 2001, this film raised critical acclaim in Québec and led to a number of awards for its lead actor, Élise Guilbault. Émond’s second feature, 20h17 rue Darling, was also selected for the Semaine, and enabled Luc Picard to win for best acting at the Festival International du Film Francophone de Namur. In 2005, Émond again worked with Guilbault for his film, La Neuvaine, named best Québec feature for 2005 by the Association Québécoise des Critiques de Cinéma (AQCC). This film also won three awards at the prestigious Festival Internazionale del Film in Locarno, including the Ecumenical Jury prize, and was also selected by about thirty other international festivals.

All Bernard Émond’s films are infused with his characteristic themes: human dignity and fragility, and the loss of cultural reference points. His documentary Le temps et le lieu (2000) is about the disappearance of traditional Québécois farming culture; L’épreuve du feu (1997) deals with the suffering of fire victims who have lost everything, and won the AQCC award for best medium-length documentary. In La terre des autres (1995), Émond establishes a parallel between the Palestinian situation and that of Canada’s First Nations. He also made L’instant et la patience (1994), shot in the eldercare residence where his mother died, and Ceux qui ont le pas léger meurent sans laisser de traces (1992), an hommage to an unknown man who died in a working-class district of Montréal; this film received the AQCC’s Prix André-Leroux for best medium-length documentary.

In 2005, the Cinémathèque Québécoise produced a Bernard Émond retrospective. In the fall of 2006, Émond shot Contre toute espérance, the second of the trilogy on the three theological virtues – faith, hope and charity – that began with La Neuvaine.