Bernard Émond, director, screenwriter (b at Montréal, 1951). After studies in anthropology and several years teaching at various Montréal Cégeps, Bernard Émond went to live in the Canadian Arctic to do work as an apprentice for Inuit television. His filmmaking career began with his documentaries, and throughout the 1990s, he provided five valued examples: Ceux qui ont le pas léger meurent sans laisser de traces (1992); La terre des autres (1995); L'épreuve du feu (1997); L'instant et la patience (1994); and Le temps et le lieu (2000).
Then switching to fiction, Bernard Émond directed his first full-length feature, La femme qui boit (The Woman Who Drinks), starring the magnificent Élise Guilbault. In the film, we follow an alcoholic woman's journey through her eventful life and her regrets. The film received the Grand Prix at the Festival de Figueira da Foz in Portugal, and ranked among the Canadian Film Industry's Top Ten in 2001. Élise Guilbault won many tributes for her outstanding performance, including the Bayard d'or at the Namur International Francophone Film Festival in Belgium as well as Jutra and Genie Awards for best actress (2002). Next, Bernard Émond directed 20h17 rue Darling (8:17 pm Darling Street), featuring the intense actor Luc Picard. It is set in a working class Montréal neighbourhood, and Luc's character struggles with alcoholism and a bottomless feeling of guilt. In 2003, the film won the prix La Vague for best Canadian feature film at the International Francophone Film Festival in Acadia (FICFA), and Picard won best actor at the Namur International Francophone Film Festival (2003). Bernard Émond then wrote the screenplay for Ce qu'il faut pour vivre (The Necessities of Life), directed by Benoît Pilon, which won a Jutra for best screenplay (2009).
Inspired by the Catholic theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, Bernard Émond next embarked on a trilogy. In the first film, La neuvaine (The Novena), we again meet up with Élise Guilbault in the role of Jeanne, an emergency room doctor who contemplates suicide but is saved by a young man's faith. Acclaimed by the film community and the public, it won commendations and awards including the prix La Vague for best Canadian film at FICFA, a Jutra for best actress (Guilbault), and best male performer (Patrick Drolet) at the Locarno Festival in Switzerland. On the topic of hope, Bernard Émond shot Contre toute espérance (Summit Circle), a sombre film that portrays a simple life, unfairly damaged by sickness and unemployment. It earned Guylaine Tremblay a Jutra (2008) for her moving performance. La donation (The Legacy) completes the trilogy. Reconnecting with his muse, Élise Guilbault, Bernard Émond again focuses on Jeanne, now in Abitibi, where she takes over the practice of a deceased doctor. A brilliant film, La donation once more takes us back into the world of selflessness and involvement with others. It has won many prizes including best director at festivals in Las Palmas and Locarno (Émond), and a special jury citation at the Toronto International Film Festival (2009).