Lefebvre, Jean-Pierre

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LEFEBVRE, Jean-Pierre

Nationality: Canadian. Born: Montreal, 17 August 1942. Education: Educated in French Literature, University of Montreal. Career: Staff writer for Objectif (Montreal), 1960–67; Professor of French, 1963–65; formed Cinak production company, 1969; initiated "Premières Oeuvres" section of Office National du Film, 1969–71; President of Association des Réalisateurs de Films du Quebec, 1974.

Films as Director and Scriptwriter:


L'Homoman (short) (+ pr, ph)


Le Révolutionnaire (+ pr)


Patricia et Jean-Baptiste (+ pr); Mon Oeil (My Eye) (unrealized)


Il ne faut pas mourir pour ça (Don't Let It Kill You) (+ pr); Mon Amie Pierrette


Jusqu'au coeur


La Chambre blanche (House of Light)


Un Succès commercial (Q-bec My Love)


Les Maudits sauvages (Those Damned Savages); Ultimatum


On n'engraisse pas les cochons à l'eau claire; Les DernièresFiançailles (The Last Betrothal)


Le Gars des vues; L'Amour blessé


Le Vieux Pays ou Rimbaud est mort


Avoir 16 ans


Les Fleurs sauvages (The Wild Flowers)


Au Rythme de mon coeur (To the Rhythm of My Heart) (+ ro, ed, ph)


Le Jour "S . . . "


Laliberté (Alfred Lalibereté, sculpteur)


La Boîte à soleil (The Box of Sun)


Le Fabuleux voyage de l'ange


Aujourd'hui ou jamais (+ ed)

Other Films:


Réjeanne Padovani (role as Jean-Pierre Caron)


L' Île jaune (role as Le journaliste)


City of Dark (role as Henry)


By LEFEBVRE: book—

Parfois quand je vis (poems), Montreal, 1970.

By LEFEBVRE: articles—

"Complexes d'une technique," in Objectif (Montreal), March 1961.

"L'Equipe française souffre-t-elle de Roucheole?," with Jean-Claude Pilon, in Objectif (Montreal), August 1962.

"Les Années folles de la critique ou petite histoire des revues de cinéma au Québec," in Objectif (Montreal), October/November 1964.

"La Crise du language et le cinéma canadien," in Objectif (Montreal), April/May 1965.

"La Méche et la bombe," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), March 1966.

"Les Paradis perdus du cinéma canadien, chapitre 1: notes en guise d'introduction à une préface éventuelle," in Objectif (Montreal), November/December 1966.

Interview with Michel Delahaye, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), January 1967.

"Les Paradis perdus du cinéma canadien, chapitre 2: illustration existentielle du chapitre 1 à partir de données oniriques," in Objectif (Montreal), May 1967.

"Les Paradis perdus du cinéma canadien, chapitre 3: Saint Gabiaz, priez pour nous," in Objectif (Montreal), August/September 1967.

"Les Quatres Saisons," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), April/May 1968.

Interview with M. Amiel, in Cinéma (Paris), December 1972.

Interviews with J.-P. Tadros, in Cinéma Québec (Montreal), December 1973/January 1974, and no. 6, 1977.

"Des lois et des cadres: La Guerre des gangs," in Cinéma Québec (Montreal), no. 4, 1976.

"Commission d'enquête sur le cinéma organisé," in Cinéma Québec (Montreal), no. 5, 1976.

Interview with René Prédal, in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), February 1978.

Interviews with B. Samuels and S. Barrowclough, in Cinema Canada (Montreal), May 1982.

"Un Métier merveilleusement périlleux," in Copie Zéro (Montreal), October 1984.

Interview with C. Racine, in 24 Images (Montreal), Autumn 1984/Winter 1985.

"La leçon de l'ami Moreau," in Copie Zéro (Montreal), March 1986.

"Le point de vue des cinéastes? Jean Pierre Lefebvre,"in 24 Images (Montreal), January-February 1990.

"Table ronde sur le cinéma indépendant," a discussion with Marie-Claude Loiselle and Claude Racine, in 24 Images (Montreal), September-October 1994.

On LEFEBVRE: books—

Marsolais, Gilles, Le Cinéma canadien, Paris, 1968.

Cinéastes de Québec 3: Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, Ottawa, 1970.

Bérubé, Renald, and Yvan Patry, editors, Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, Montreal, 1971.

Barrowclough, Susan, editor, Jean-Pierre Lefebvre: The QuebecConnection, London, 1981.

Harcourt, Peter, Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, Ottawa, 1981.

On LEFEBVRE: articles—

Fraser, Graham, "The Gentle Revolutionary," in Take One (Montreal), October 1967.

Larsen, André, "Le Sens de la contestationet Jean-Pierre Lefebvre," in Le Cinéma Québecois: Tendences et prolongements, Cahiers Ste-Marie, 1968.

La Rochelles, Real, and Gilbert Maggi, "Political Situation of Quebec Cinema," in Cineaste (New York), Summer 1972.

Gauthier, G., "Sur deux films de Jean-Pierre Lefebvre," in Image etSon (Paris), January 1975.

Barrowclough, Susan, "The Films of Jean-Pierre Lefebvre," in Ciné-Tracts (Montreal), Winter 1982.

Bessette, M., "Jean Pierre Lefebvre: au rythme de son coeur," in Copie Zero (Montreal), October 1988.

Loiselle, M.-C "Le pouvoir de l'imaginaire," 24 Images (Montreal), Autumn 1991.

Stars (Mariembourg), June 1992.

Elia, Maurice, "Le Prix Albert-Tessier à Jean Pierre Lefebvre," in Séquences (Haute-Ville), January-February 1996.

Kelly, Brendan: "Today or Never (Au jourd'hui ou jamais)", in Variety (New York), 26 October 1998.

* * *

There is a filmmaker who has been invited to present his work at the Cannes Film Festival Director's Fortnight more often than any other filmmaker in the world. His career began, not in film school or under the aegis of a state-funded film organization, but instead as a poet, a critic and as a student and then professor of French literature. The filmmaker is Jean Pierre Lefebvre, a French Canadian, born and educated in Montreal, Quebec, respected and lauded by Francophone film audiences and critics, and yet still relatively unknown in the English–language film world and in the world of commercial cinema.

In many ways Lefebvre is the archetypal Francophone intellectual. His large film oeuvre is stamped with the imprint of a philosopher, a humourist, a poet, an observer, and a humble yet assured commentator on the state of things. Lefebvre's films play with the idea of relationships: relationships among individuals, between individuals and their surroundings, and between individuals and the language they use and personalize through poetic and colloquial misuse. He is concerned also with the relationship of the elements of film language and the relationship between the film spectator and what is projected on the screen. Lefebvre plays with sound, words and images, succeeding in drawing the spectator's attention to the possibilities contained within language, film language, and the situation in which we confront these vehicles for communication. As the Canadian film critic Peter Harcourt observed of Lefebvre's technique, "the extended takes give us time not only to experience an action but also to think about what we may be feeling." The work of Lefebvre is also indicative of an intellectual and artistic movement endemic to French Canadians of Quebecois origin, and in particular to those who came of age during the 1960s.

Quebecois culture, which had been colonized, both literally and metaphorically, by the French, the English, the Church, and the Americans, made its voice heard at home and on the international front through demonstrations, civil disobedience, and the radical presence of the Front de Liberation du Quebec. Quebecois culture began to assert itself through its vocal and visible difference, a difference that hinged greatly on the language of the Quebecois population. Lefebvre describes the role of film in this historic situation: "In the late 1950s and 1960s, cinema was terribly important for naming our society, for making it exist in people's mind."

Working within the constraints of small budgets, Lefebvre has constructed film works that speak of a specific political time and place, just as they speak of the universal, philosophical, and humourous personal and sexual conditions. Lefebvre's wife and collaborator, the late Marguerite Duparc, acted as editor and producer on many of Lefebvre's works as well as co-directing Cinak, the production company set up by Lefebvre in the late 1960s. Duparc was known to sacrifice her own creative projects in order to ensure that monetary assistance would be concentrated on Lefebvre's own works. The situation for fiction filmmakers in Quebec during the 1970s and 1980s was economically difficult.

Lefebvre's work is "political" in the personal, formal, and aesthetic sense and not always in the easily identifiable party political sense. His style varies with the subject matter he tackles, as he adapts the structure of his features to the nature of the narratives and the queries they pose. Similar in some ways to Godard and Bresson, two filmmakers to whose work Lefebvre's has been compared, Lefebvre often experiments with sound and image. At the same time, he stands apart from his contemporaries in the Quebecois film industry and cannot be grouped with any particular indigenous movement. Nevertheless, the film work of Lefebvre continues to attract critical and public attention for its continuing commitment to the politics and the beauty of language, of Quebecois culture, and of the fine art of cinema.

—Clea H. Notar

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