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Jean-François Caissy’s NFB doc Premières armes screens in Quebec theatres starting January 18


December 14, 2018 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

After playing at festivals in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, Jean-François Caissy’s feature documentary Premières armes (First Stripes) is being released in theatres beginning January 18, in its original French version in Montreal and Eastern Quebec and in an English-subtitled version at Montreal’s Cinéma Moderne. Produced for the NFB by Johanne Bergeron, with Colette Loumède as executive producer, the film is a touching and humorous depiction of how civilians are transformed into Canadian Armed Forces soldiers. Premières armes is the third in a series of feature-length documentaries by Caissy (after La belle visite and Guidelines) that examine different stages of life—in this case, the transition to adulthood.

Theatrical screenings


Cinémathèque québécoise

Cinéma Moderne (original French version with English subtitles).
Cinéma Moderne will also be screening Caissy’s two other feature-length documentaries, Guidelines (NFB) and La belle visite, before January 18.

Eastern Quebec: 

January 28 – Rivière-du-Loup

January 29 – Rimouski

January 30 – Matane

January 31 – Carleton-sur-Mer

Les cinéastes racontent

On Wednesday, January 23 at 5 p.m., Jean-François Caissy will be taking part in the fourth edition of the Cinéastes racontent series at the Cinémathèque québécoise. The brainchild of Colette Loumède, who also hosts, the series offers audiences a glimpse into the creative processes of some of the best directors working with the NFB’s French Program Documentary Studio. The event will be followed by a screening of Premières armes.

Festival circuit

  • World premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival.
  • Selected for a number of other European festivals, including Edinburgh, La Rochelle, and Namur.
  • In Canada, selected for the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM).
  • In the U.S., selected for the Camden International Film Festival.

About the film

Premières armes (First Stripes) 106 min

Thrown into an intensive 12-week training program, young civilians are gradually transformed into soldiers. Premières armes takes viewers on a nuanced and compassionate cinematic journey into the heart of military training and its necessary indoctrination process. With mixed feelings of apprehension and eagerness, the recruits gradually join the ranks of what will become their new family.

About the filmmaker

Born on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, in Carleton-sur-Mer, Jean-François Caissy is an independent artist who works in cinema and other visual arts. He first gained attention in 2005 for his debut feature-length documentary, Mating Season, which is about hunting. His next film, Journey’s End, shot in a senior citizens’ residence and released in 2009, won him recognition at the Berlin International Film Festival. In addition to being selected to screen at several festivals (including the BFI London Film Festival, the Visions du Réel festival in Switzerland and the Hot Docs festival in Toronto), the film received the award for best documentary at FICFA (the international francophone film festival in New Brunswick) and was nominated for Jutra and Genie awards in the best documentary category. In 2014, Caissy directed Guidelines, his third feature film and his first collaboration with the National Film Board, depicting the daily lives of teenagers at a rural high school. The film screened at the 64th Berlinale and enjoyed success with both critics and audiences. Adept at capturing microcosms of society and observing rituals, Caissy completed Premières armes, an NFB documentary about the lives of young recruits in the Canadian Forces.

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Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: First Stripes

Associated Links

Cinémathèque québécoise
Cinéma Moderne

Media Relations

  • Lily Robert
    Director, Communications and Public Affairs, NFB
    C.: 514-296-8261

  • About the NFB

    Founded in 1939, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a one-of-a-kind producer, co-producer and distributor of distinctive, engaging, relevant and innovative documentary and animated films. As a talent incubator, it is one of the world’s leading creative centres. The NFB has enabled Canadians to tell and hear each other’s stories for over eight decades, and its films are a reliable and accessible educational resource. The NFB is also recognized around the world for its expertise in preservation and conservation, and for its rich and vibrant collection of works, which form a pillar of Canada’s cultural heritage. To date, the NFB has produced more than 14,000 works, 6,500 of which can be streamed free of charge at nfb.ca. The NFB and its productions and co-productions have earned over 7,000 awards, including 11 Oscars and an Honorary Academy Award for overall excellence in cinema.