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Michel Brault

Director, Screenwriter, Editor, Cinematographer
(b. June 25, 1928 Montreal, Quebec - d. September 21, 2013 Toronto, Ontario)

An influential cinematographer, director and writer, Michel Brault worked as a professional photographer before finding himself in the field of cinema, thanks to the encouragement of his friend and colleague Claude Jutra. Brault collaborated with Jacques Giraldeau on Petites médisances (1953–1954, 39 episodes), a series made using the innovative new principles of the "Candid Eye movement.” In 1956, he joined the National Film Board, where he worked as a cameraperson on a number of Candid Eye series films, most notably The Days Before Christmas (1958, directed by Terence Macartney-Filgate).

That same year, Brault co-directed Les raquetteurs (1958) with Gilles Groulx, a work that was heralded as a sort of manifesto for the NFB's francophone filmmakers. Defending a different approach to cinema, from then on Brault was part of a new documentary process that was equally technically innovative and artistically innovative. He worked on several films that have become classics; for instance, La lutte (1961), which he photographed, edited and co-directed with Claude Fournier, Claude Jutra and Marcel Carrière; Golden Gloves (1961), directed by Gilles Groulx; and Québec USA ou l'invasion pacifique (1961), also co-directed with Jutra. In photographing all of these films, Brault deliberately used the fluid style of movement developed through his signature method of carrying the camera on his shoulder. He also made use of a wide-angle lens, which put him at the heart of the action and close to his subjects.

In California, in 1959, Brault met the father of cinéma-verité, the Frenchman Jean Rouch, a man who would greatly influence his future. In 1961, he collaborated with Rouch and Edgar Morin on Chronique d'un été (France). During the shoot, he helped develop a new camera, the KMT Coutant-Mathot, the forerunner to the documentary cameras created by the Éclair corporation. In Europe, he collaborated with numerous filmmakers and refined the practice of a cinematic style already known as direct cinema.

Affected by the ethical issues surrounding his art form, Brault's cinema reached new heights with Pour la suite du monde (1963) (co-directed with Pierre Perrault), a masterpiece of direct cinema. In search of more autonomy, he left the NFB in 1965 to found Nanouk Films. However, he did return to collaborate with the NFB a few more times. His political activism pushed him toward the question of national identity, an issue that can be found in such films as Un pays sans bons sens! (1970) and L'Acadie, l'Acadie?!? (1971), both co-directed with Perrault.

It was during the 1970s that he undertook two important series. The first one was Le son des français d'Amérique (1974–1976, 13 episodes; 1977–1980, 14 episodes), which he made at Nanouk Films and co-directed with André Gladu about the traditional music of French-speaking people throughout North America. The second notable series was La belle ouvrage (1977–1980, 22 episodes), made with the NFB. Brault photographed the series, which dealt with nearly obsolete occupations and traditional customs, and was co-directed by Bernard Gosselin, Léo Plamondon, Claire Boyer and Diane Létourneau.

Brault, who was active in feature length fiction since his collaboration with Claude Jutra on À tout prendre (1963), slowly gave up his documentary practice. His interest shifted to fiction, a form he embraced because it “doesn't pretend to be the truth and therefore is not a lie.” His cinematography appears in several major works of Quebec fiction, including Jutra’s renowned Mon oncle Antoine (1971) and Francis Mankiewicz’s acclaimed Les bons débarras (1980). One of his most powerful fictional pieces as a director is the acclaimed Les ordres (1974), a film about the October Crisis that was strongly influenced by direct cinema. It won the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival and four Genies.

Since 1988, he has made several pieces for television. Over a lengthy period in the 1990s, he produced two feature length films, Mon amie Max (1994) and Quand je serai parti… vous vivrez encore(1999), and later, shot Jacques Godbout’s Anne Hébert, 1916-2000 (2000).

Film and video work includes

Matin, 1950 (director; cinematographer; editor)
Petites médisances series, 1953-1954 (cinematographer; TV, 39 episodes)
Chèvres, 1954 (co-director with Claude Sylvestre)
Images en boîte series, 1954 (cinematographer)
La Mattawin, rivière sauvage, 1954 (co-director with Claude Sylvestre; cinematographer)
Ombre et lumière series, 1955 (cinematographer)
Les bateaux de neige, 1956 (cinematographer)
Pierrot des bois, 1956 (cinematographer)
Le tramway fantôme, 1956 (cinematographer)
La communauté juive de Montréal, 1957 (co-cinematographer with Jean Roy)
Les ingénieurs, 1957 (co-cinematographer with Peter Kelly, Georges Dufaux)
Pas un mot..., 1957 (co-cinematographer with Jean Roy)
Viendra le jour, 1957 (cinematographer)
Au bout de ma rue, 1958 (cinematographer)
The Days Before Christmas, 1958 (co-cinematographer with Georges Dufaux)
Eye witness no. 99, Eye witness series, 1958 (co-cinematographer with Hector Lemieux)
Eye witness no. 101, Eye witness series, 1958 (director; cinematographer)
Une île du Saint-Laurent, 1958 (cinematographer)
Jour de juin, 1958 (co-cinematographer with Jean Roy)
Le maître du Pérou, 1958 (cinematographer)
Pays neuf, 1958 (cinematographer)
Police, Candid Eye series, 1958 (co-cinematographer with Terence Macartney-Filgate, Georges Dufaux)
La canne à pêche, 1959 (cinematographer)
Félix Leclerc, troubadour, 1959 (cinematographer)
Fred Barry, comédien, 1959 (cinematographer)
John Lyman, peintre, 1959 (cinematographer)
Normétal, 1959 (cinematographer)
Alfred Desrochers poète et journaliste, 1960 (cinematographer)
Emergency in Morocco, 1960 (cinematographer)
Le parc Belmont, 1960 (cinematographer)
Le Père Noël, 1960 (cinematographer)
Saint-Denys Garneau, 1960 (cinematographer)
Wilfrid Pelletier, 1960 (cinematographer)
Les administrateurs, 1961 (co-cinematographer with Ray Jones, François Séguillon)
Chronique d'un été, 1961 (co-cinematographer with Raoul Coutard, Roger Morillère, Jean-Jacques Tarbe)
Festival in Puerto Rico, Candid Eye series, 1961 (cinematographer)
Les inconnus de la terre, 1961 (co-cinematographer Roger Morillière)
Québec USA ou l'invasion pacifique, 1961 (co-director with Claude Jutra; co-cinematographer with Bernard Gosselin)
36,000 brasses, 1962 (co-cinematographer with Guy Borremans, Bernard Gosselin)
La fête prisonnière, 1962 (co-cinematographer with Roger Morillière)
Le jeu de l'hiver, 1962 (co-cinematographer with Jean Dansereau, Bernard Gosselin)
La punition, 1962 (cinematographer)
Regard sur la folie, 1962 (co-cinematographer with Roger Morillière)
Les enfants du silence, 1963 (co-director with Claude Jutra; cinematographer)
La France revisitée, 1963 (co-cinematographer with Guy Borremans, Georges Dufaux)
Jusqu'au cou, 1963 (co-cinematographer with Jean-Claude Labrecque)
Geneviève, La fleur de l'âge series, 1964 (director)
Le temps perdu, 1964 (director; cinematographer)
Les Montréalistes, 1965 (cinematographer)
Vivre en ce pays series, 1965-1967 (cinematographer)
Rouli-roulant, 1966 (cinematographer)
Aspects d'une discussion en groupe, 1967 (co-cinematographer with Jean Roy)
Conflit/conflict, 1967 (director)
Express film, 1967 (director)
Ferrari: Le grand défi, 1967 (co-cinematographer with Jean Roy)
Poussière sur la ville, 1967 (cinematogarpher)
Sartre-de Beauvoir, 1967 (cinematographer)
Le beau plaisir, 1968 (co-director with Pierre Perrault, Bernard Gosselin; co-cinematographer with Bernard Gosselin)
Les enfants de néant, 1968 (director; cinematographer)
Ce soir-là, Gilles Vigneault . . ., 1968 (co-cinematographer with Bernard Gosselin)
La visite du Général de Gaulle au Québec, 1968 (co-cinematographer with Bernard Gosselin, Jean-Claude Labrecque)
L'aveugle, 1969 (cinematographer)
Éloge du chiac, 1969 (director; co-cinematographer with Alain Dostie)
Entre tu et vous, 1969 (cinematographer)
Préambule, 1969 (cinematographer)
René Lévesque vous parle: les 6 milliards, 1969 (director)
Eliza's Horoscope, 1970 (co-cinematographer with Jean Boffety, Paul van der Linden)
L'Acadie l'Acadie?!?, 1971 (co-director with Pierre Perrault; cinematographer)
Festival Panafricain d'Alger, 1970 (co-cinematographer with Bernard Gosselin)
Marie-Christine, 1970 (cinematographer)
Ça ne s'use que si l'on ne s'en sert pas, 1971 (co-cinematographer with Roger Morellec)
Le jeu de l'hiver, 1972 (co-cinematographer with Bernard Gosselin, Jean Dansereau)
René Lévesque pour le vrai, 1972 (director; cinematographer)
Alien Thunder, 1973 (cinematographer, second unit only)
Le bras de levier et la rivière, 1973 (director; writer; cinematographer)
C'est pas tous les jours fête, 1973 (cinematographer)
On est bien sur l'amour, 1973 (cinematographer)
Tickets s.v.p.!, 1973 (co-cinematographer with Bernard Gosselin)
Le son des français d'Amérique series, 1974-1980 (co-director with André Gladu; 27 episodes)
Le réveil des aveugles, 1975 (cinematographer)
Les chaises roulantes, 1976 (cinematographer)
Jules le magnifique, 1976 (co-cinematographer with François Gill)
Le poids de l'étiquette; l'épilepsie, 1976 (co-cinematographer with François Gill)
René Lévesque: un vrai chef, 1976 (director; cinematographer)
La veillée des veillées, 1976 (co-cinematographer with Bernard Gosselin, Jean-Claude Labrecque, Pierre Mignot)
Gestes absurdes, 1977 (co-cinematographer with François Gill)
15 nov, 1977 (cinematographer)
La belle ouvrage series, 1977-1980 (cinematographer; 22 episodes)
La loi de la ville, 1978 (co-cinematographer with André Ganon, Pierre Mignot)
Thetford au milieu de notre vie, 1978 (co-cinematographer with Guy Dufaux)
Autopsie d'une exclusion, 1978 (cinematographer)
Les gens de plaisir, 1979 (director)
Il faut continuer, 1979 (director)
Le p'tit Canada, 1979 (director)
Le canot à Renald à Thomas, 1980 (producer)
Chemin faisant, 1981 (co-producer with Jacques Bobet)
Les dompteurs de vent, 1981 (cinematographer)
Les douces, 1981 (producer)
Elia Kazan, outsider, 1981 (cinematographer)
Threshold, 1981 (cinematographer)
Complexe grande baleine, 1982 (co-cinematographer with Jean Juaneta)
On est pas sorti du bois, 1982 (producer)
La quarantaine, 1982 (cinematographer)
Étau bus, 1983 (cinematographer)
Marc-Aurèle Fortin (1888-1970), 1983 (co-cinematographer with Pierre Mignot)
Les peurs bleues, 1983 (cinematographer)
Louisiana, 1984 (cinematographer)
Zarico, 1984 (co-producer with Jacques Vallée, Daniel Pinard)
A Freedom to Move, 1985 (director; producer)
Half a lifetime, 1985 (cinematographer; TV)
Campaign 1986, 1986 (director; cinematographer)
No Mercy, 1986 (cinematographer)
The Great Land of Small, 1987 (cinematographer)
Le lys cassé, 1987 (producer; TV)
Des amis pour la vie, 1988 (cinematographer)
L'emprise, 1988 (director)
Salut Victor!, 1988 (cinematographer)
Les noces de papier, 1989 (director; cinematographer; TV)
Diogène, 1990 (director)
Montréal vu par ..., La dernière partie, Part 2, 1991 (director; writer)
Les malheureux magnifiques, 1992 (actor)
Shabbat Shalom!, 1992 (director; TV)
Mon amie Max, 1994 (director; cinematographer)
Erreur sur la personne, 1996 (producer)
Ozias Leduc, 1996 (cinematographer)
Quand je serai parti... vous vivrez encore, 1999 (director; writer)
Anne Hébert, 1916-2000, 2000 (cinematographer)