Skip to main content

Bernard Émond

Anthropologist, Filmmaker, and Author
Honorary Doctorate in Anthropology

Bernard Émond has spent his life successfully fusing his studies in anthropology with his artistic work. Known for his eight critically acclaimed feature films, which have received numerous awards and been selected by major international festivals, he has also made his mark with his literary writings and social criticism.

In the 1970s, Bernard Émond directed his first documentaries for Vidéographe and Groupe Intervention Vidéo, of which he was a founding member. At the same time, he wrote a master's thesis on ethnographic cinema, then taught anthropology at colleges and as a lecturer at Université de Montréal. Drawn to Inuit culture, he worked in the far north starting in the 1980s to train video production teams for Taqramiut Nipingat in Nunavik and later for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation in Nunavut. His time in the north sharpened his perception of the fragility of cultures, which would become a common theme in his work. The 1980s also saw him publish thought pieces in Recherches amérindiennes au Québec and Le temps fou, among others.

Starting in the 1990s, filmmaking became his main focus. He made five documentaries and then shot his first feature film, The Woman Who Drinks, nominated for five Jutra Awards and five Genie Awards. This was followed by 8:17 p.m. Darling Street and The Novena, which established him as a leading filmmaker. He also wrote the screenplay for The Necessities of Life, which won the Jutra and Genie Awards for best screenplay in 2009. In both his film and literary works, which include essays, short stories, novels, and children's books, the anthropologist takes a critical look at the contemporary world, focusing on the role of image, the loss of what guides us, and the breakdown of social ties.

Photo: Hélène Bouffard