His Excellency Jean-Daniel Lafond, C.C.
Jean-Daniel Lafond was born in France, where he taught philosophy and was a researcher in education sciences. He became a guest professor at the Université de Montréal in 1974, emigrated to Canada and became a Canadian citizen in 1981. He has since devoted his time to cinema and writing, with occasional projects in radio and theatre.
Lafond has written 15 films that embody his commitment to creative documentary filmmaking: Les traces du rêve (1985, nominated for a Genie in best documentary category); Le voyage au bout de la route (1987); Le visiteur d’un soir (1989); A State of Blackness: Aimé Césaire's Way (La Manière Nègre ou Aimé Césaire, chemin faisant, 1991); Tropic North (Tropique Nord, 1994, won the TV5 Prize for best French-language documentary); Freedom Outraged (La liberté en colère,1994); Haiti in All Our Dreams (Haïti dans tous nos rêves, 1995, best political film award, Hot Docs Festival, Toronto, 1996); Last Call for Cuba (L’Heure de Cuba, 1999, shortlisted for a Gémeaux award, best documentary); The Barbarian Files (Le temps des barbares, 1999, nominated for a Gémeaux award, best documentary category); Salam Iran, a Persian letter (Salam Iran, une lettre persane, 2002, won a Gémeaux award for best documentary); Le faiseur de théâtre (Les Films d’Ici, France, 2002); The Cabinet of Dr. Ferron (Le cabinet du Docteur Ferron, 2003, won a Gémeaux award, best documentary); The American Fugitive or The Truth about Hassan (2006, nominated for four Gémeaux and screened in over 20 festivals abroad).
In 2008, he completed a project that was 28 years in the making: a film, The Madwoman of God (Folle de Dieu), and a play, The Madness of Love, both inspired by the writings of Marie de l’Incarnation (1599-1672), a mystic and the first woman writer of New France. Marie Tifo plays in the leading role in both. These works were launched during the official program of the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the City of Québec.
A seasoned observer of the world and of our times, Jean-Daniel Lafond has crafted films that tell touching, thought-provoking stories; philosophical poems that resonate with the call of the road, and that mirror the fates of men and nations. Parallel to his involvement in cinema, he has developed original works for radio (France-Culture, Radio-Canada), published several books, and made a foray into the world of theatre. He also co-founded Les Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal, serving as its president until 2005. His films have received numerous awards in Canada and abroad. He was awarded the Prix Lumières in 1999, and has been a Companion of the Order of Canada since 2005.