Somewhere between chance and mystery lies imagination, the only thing that protects our freedom.”

-– Luis Buñuel

Jean Pierre Lefebvre

2013 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Film)

A seminal figure in Canadian cinema, Jean Pierre Lefebvre has received international acclaim for his innovative, thoughtful, fiercely independent films. His body of work includes close to 30 features and numerous short films, documentaries and videos. His work has been the subject of retrospectives in Canada and abroad, and his films have been screened at the Cannes Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), among many others. As a teacher and mentor, he has also played a key role in encouraging a younger generation of filmmakers.

Mr. Lefebvre was born in Montreal in 1941. He studied literature at the Université de Montréal and worked as a teacher and film critic before embarking on his film career in 1964. He formed his own production company, Cinak, in 1969, and headed the National Film Board’s French-language fiction studio in 1969–70. He has enjoyed equal success—what he calls “a double career”—in English and French Canada, thanks to the film workshops he has given from coast to coast to coast and to numerous retrospectives of his work, including the inaugural edition (2001) of TIFF’s “Canadian Retrospective” showcase.

Mr. Lefebvre has brought a deeply humanist approach to Quebec’s history and day-to-day reality. He has written and directed close to 30 features, most with a modest budget. They include Il ne faut pas mourir pour ça (1967, Best Foreign Film award, Rencontres du jeune cinéma, Hyères, France), Les dernières fiançailles (1973, Prix de l’Organisation catholique internationale du cinéma), Le vieux pays où Rimbaud est mort (1977), Les fleurs sauvages (1982, Cannes International Critics’ Prize), Le jour “S” (1984), La boîte à soleil (1988), Le fabuleux voyage de l’ange (1990), Aujourd’hui ou jamais (1997), Le manuscrit érotique (2001), and La Route des cieux (2010). He has also explored video as a creative medium, notably in his five-part project L’âge des images (1993–95).

Awards and honours include Officer of the Order of Canada (1991); Wendy Michener Prize (Canadian Film Awards, 1971); Ontario Film Institute Award of Excellence (1983); Independent Film Alliance Award (1985); fellowship from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (1987); Albert Tessier Award (1995); and Prix Lumières (Association des réalisateurs et réalisatrices du Québec, 1997).