One of the most significant documentary filmmakers of all time has passed away. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Michel Brault died of a heart attack at age 85 while en route to a film festival Saturday. The destination was Huntsville, Ontario’s Film North fest, where he was to receive a lifetime achievement honor.
Brault was a pioneer of the Direct Cinema movement of Quebec, which began in 1958. That year he and Gillex Groulx released their landmark documentary Les Raquetteurs, which presents a look at a snowshoers convention, shot hand-held and with synchronous sound. One of its fans was French filmmaker Jean Rouch, who recruited Brault as a cinematographer for another nonfiction cinema landmark, Chronicles of a Summer.
Later he turned to narrative works and won a directing award at Cannes in 1975 for the nonfiction drama Les Ordres. And he shot Mon Oncle Antoine. Before this, his other documentary work includes co-directing Wrestling, Pour la Suite du Monde, La Lutte and L’acadie, l’Acadie in the early 1960s.
Watch Les Raquetteurs via the National Film Board of Canada below.
And here you can watch the feature-length L’acadie, l’Acadie
And here is an interview with Brault at a screening of Chronicle of a Summer: