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Michaëlle Jean: A Woman of Purpose

Jean-Daniel Lafond
2016 | 52 min

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Jean-Daniel Lafond

Jean-Daniel Lafond

Jean-Daniel Lafond was born in France, where he was a professor of philosophy and a researcher in educational sciences. Visiting Professor at the Université de Montréal in 1974, he opted for exile in Canada and became a Canadian citizen in 1981. He has since devoted his life to filmmaking and writing, with occasional forays into radio broadcasting and theatre.
Jean-Daniel Lafond is the author of some fifteen movies, part of a long lineage of creative documentary filmmaking that includes Dream Tracks (1985, nominated for a Genie Award as Best Documentary), Le voyage au bout de la route (1987), Le visiteur d’un soir (1989), A State of Blackness: Aimé Césaire’s Way (1991), Tropic North (1994 – TV5 Award for best French language documentary), Freedom Outraged (1994), Haiti in All Our Dreams (1995 – Best Political Documentary, Hot Docs Festival, Toronto 1996), Last Call for Cuba (1999 – nominated for best documentary, Gémeaux Awards), The Barbarian Files (1999), Salam Iran, a Persian Letter ( 2002 – Gémeaux Award for best documentary), Le faiseur de théâtre (2002 – Les Films d’Ici, France), The Cabinet of Doctor Ferron (2003 – Gémeaux Award for best documentary), American Fugitive or The Truth about Hassan (2006 – nominated for four Gémeaux awards in 2007, selected in over 20 festivals around the world), Madwoman of God (2008), A woman of purpose (2015).

While pursuing his filmmaking career, Jean-Daniel Lafond has created original radio content (with France-Culture and Radio-Canada), published books, and ventured into theatre. He co-founded in 1998 and presided over until 2005 over the Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal and the Observatoire canadien du documentaire. His films have garnered a number of national and international awards, including the Lumières Award, in 1999.

In 2005, Jean-Daniel Lafond was named a Companion of the Order of Canada (C.C.), the highest civilian distinction awarded in Canada. In 2009, he was elected member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (R.C.A.). In 2013, he was appointed Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French government.
From 2005 to 2010, Jean-Daniel Lafond worked steadfastly towards supporting his wife, The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, in her function as Governor General, Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.

In 2010, Jean-Daniel Lafond became Distinguished Senior Fellow with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, at Carleton University in Ottawa, and the founder of Le pouvoir des arts/ Power of the Arts National Forum.

Nathalie Barton

Nathalie Barton

Nathalie Barton is president of InformAction Films inc., which she co-founded in Montreal in 1971. She has produced documentaries, especially auteur documentaries, since 1985, including films by emerging filmmakers. Producers Ian Quenneville and Ian Oliveri joined the company in 2000.

Recent production credits include Grassroots In Dry Lands, feature documentary by Helene Klodawsky, coproduced with the NFB, to be released in 2016, The Price We Pay, feature documentary by Harold Crooks, launched at TIFF 2014 and released theatrically in March 2015 (TIFF Top Ten, Best Canadian documentary Vancouver Film Critics Circle), Faith in Government, by Jon Kalina,2014, Frameworks, Images of a Changing World, feature documentary by Helen Doyle, 2013 (Best Arts & Culture Documentary: Prix Gémeaux 2014, finalist Best Feature Documentary: Prix Jutra 2014, Best Canadian Film: FIFA 2013), Trains of Life by André Melançon, 2013, Sand Wars, by Denis Delestrac, coproduced with La compagnie des Taxi-brousse, Rappi Productions and Arte, 2013 (Best Nature & Science Documentary: Prix Gémeaux 2014, Rockie Award for Best Environmental Program: Banff World Media Festival 2014, 10 international awards), East End Forever, feature documentary by Carole Laganière, 2012, Planet Yoga, feature documentary by Carlos Ferrand, 2011, Unlikely Treasures and Small Wonders by Tally Abecassis, 2010.

Nathalie Barton represented documentary on the board of APFTQ from 1994 to 2002, was a member of the executive of Femmes du cinéma, de la télévision et des nouveaux medias from 2005 to 2010, and chair of the Observatoire du documentaire (The Documentary Network) from 2008 to 2011. She is a founding member and member of the board of the African film festival in Montreal, Vues d’Afrique.

René Chénier
Producer (NFB)

René Chénier

René Chénier served as Executive Producer at the National Film Board of Canada’s French Animation Studio from 2006 to 2014. Under his leadership, the Studio produced over 70 animated short films, and since 2012, it has garnered 122 awards at Canadian and international festivals. While heading the Studio, René strived to expand its involvement in international co-productions. He has recently been appointed the NFB’s Executive Producer, Special Projects.

Earlier in his career, René independently produced the award-winning musical fantasy Hugo and the Dragon (Philippe Baylaucq, 2001) and collaborated on the production of several other fiction feature films, including The Necessities of Life (2008) by Benoît Pilon, which received several awards and was a semi-finalist for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.

In 2010, René produced Impressions/Glimpses, a short film created especially for the prestigious World Expo in Shanghai, where it was shown on a huge semi-circular screen at the Canada Pavilion, offering audiences an immersive cinematic experience. A true man of the cinema, René also stands out for having produced several films in 3D, including ORA (Philippe Baylaucq, 2011) a short film about dance, choreographed by José Navas.

ORA is the first film in the world to have been shot using infrared cameras and carries Norman McLaren’s tradition of painting with light into the 21st century. ORA has been widely acclaimed and received numerous awards, including the 3D Creative Arts Award at the Autodesk 3D Independent Short Film Competition of the International 3D & Advanced Imaging Society in Los Angeles in February 2013. René Chénier’s most recent production, CODA (Denis Poulin and Martine Époque, 2014), has been selected for the 2014 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival.


Sgt Serge Gouin, Rideau Hall, OSGG
Photo : © Sgt Serge Gouin, Rideau Hall, OSGG
Sgt Serge Gouin, Rideau Hall, OSGG
Photo : © Sgt Serge Gouin, Rideau Hall, OSGG


Written, Narrated and Directed by
Jean-Daniel Lafond

Edited by
Babalou Hamelin

Jean-Daniel Lafond

Additional Images
Alberto Feio
Carlos Ferrand
Sgt Ronald Duchesne
Sgt Serge Gouin
Sgt Éric Jolin
MCpl Evan Kuelz
MCpl Jean-François Néron
MCpl Issa Paré
MCpl Dany Veillette

Sound Recording
Jean-Denis Daoust
Jean-Daniel Lafond
Catherine Van Der Donckt

Sound Editing
Catherine Van der Donckt
Benoît Dame
Gaëlle Komàr


Research Consultant
Yves Bisaillon

Voice Recording
Serge Hamel

Sound Mix
Serge Boivin

Online Editing
Serge Verreault

Cynthia Ouellet

Technical support
Isabelle Painchaud
with the participation of
Patrick Trahan
Pierre Dupont

Technical Project Coordination
Daniel Lord                                                                                          

Archival Coordination and Rights Clearance
Nancy Marcotte

Archival Sources
AP Images/Ramon Espinosa
Library and Archives Canada
CTV News Stox, a Division of Bell Media Inc.
Latin American Studies
The Canadian Press
Le Devoir
Guy Lion
The Globe & Mail
Toronto Star

Hymne à la beauté du monde
by Luc Plamondon and Christian St-Roch
Plamondon Publishing, Les Éditions Vibrations

Inuusivunga (Je vais vivre)
by Elisapie Isaac and Alain Auger

Lussier & Khouzam
Rémy Khouzam
Sophie De Champlain (ONF)

Production Accountant
Martine Brunelle

Nathalie Barton (InformAction)
René Chénier (ONF)


Press Relations

  • About the NFB

    The NFB is Canada’s public producer and distributor of award-winning documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences, working with talented creators across the country. The NFB is taking action to combat systemic racism and become a more open and diverse organization, while working to strengthen Indigenous-led production and gender equity in film and digital media. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including 12 Oscars. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.