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51st Directors’ Fortnight May 15-25, 2019

Le Déclin de l’Emipre Américain

Fortnight 1986, Feature film, 1h35

Synopsis

C’est un film sur la vie privée des gens, un film de conversations… Il y a beaucoup de films qui montrent des gens qui font des actes agréables ou répréhensibles mais je n’en connaissais aucun où les gens sont assis autour d’une table et parlent. Ca m’apparaissait comme un sujet qui n’avait jamais été traité au cinéma, c’était nouveau. C’est une des raisons pour lequelles j’ai eu envie de travailler là-dessus. Au fond, ce film parle des gens que je connais bien et que j’aime malgré leurs défauts… C’est un peu l’histoire de ma vie et celle de mes amis. Denys Arcand

Director

Denys Arcand

Arcand grew up in a devoutly religious 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. n 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 Comfort 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.

Daniel Brière
Dominique Michel
Dorothée Berryman
Gabriel Arcand
Genviève Rioux
Louise Portal
Pierre Curzi
Remy Girard
Yves Jacques

Scénario
Denys Arcand

Image
Guy Dufaux

Son
Richard Besse

Montage
Monique Fortier

Musique
François Dompierre

Production : Corporation Image M et M, Montréal, Canada Office National du Film du Canada, Montréal, Canada Vente à l’étranger : Les Films René Malo,Montréal, Canada

Awards

Prix FIPRESCI