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Themes - Film

Micheline Lanctôt

Photograph of Micheline Lanctôt

(1947- )
Director, Writer, Producer, Actor

Micheline Lanctôt

It is not easy to define Micheline Lanctôt. This acclaimed and respected filmmaker is a prominent figure in Quebec cinema of the past, the present and the future.

Born May 12, 1947 in Frelighsburg in the Eastern Townships, she lived on the family farm until 1952, when her family moved to Outremont. She was an intuitive and curious child with a lively imagination. Her father, a learned man who loved history and the theatre, had a major influence on her.

Micheline's first love was music. She did advanced studies at the École de musique Vincent-d'Indy and studied art history at the Université de Montréal. In addition to playing the piano and the cello, she is a very talented singer — her unique voice is the only thing she considers a gift. She tried her hand at theatre and studied briefly at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal before doing a stint at the National Film Board (NFB) and working as an artist at Potterton Productions, a Montréal animation company. Her talent enabled her to work at all levels: inker, colourist, background designer, and then assistant animator.

At a time when she was no longer feeling satisfied with her work, Gilles Carle sought her out and asked her to act in La Vraie Nature de Bernadette, and her career as an actor took off in 1972. She played a variety of small roles. It was during the filming of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, starring Richard Dreyfuss, where she met director Ted Kotcheff and then settled with him in Los Angeles.

She stayed there until 1980, but returned to Montreal regularly to, among other things, make her television appearance as Marie-Josée Lafleur in Guy Fournier's television series Jamais deux sans toi. She would appear again in series such as Les Héritiers Duval, Réseaux, Scoop, Omerta and Le Pollock, to name just a few.

The animated film A Token Gesture (1976) was the first film she directed. However, she really got her start as a filmmaker with the film L'Homme à tout faire, which she wrote and directed in 1980. This was a promising start: the film won a prize at San Sebastian and was nominated in two categories (best director and best film) at the Canadian Film Awards. She did the same thing with Sonatine (1984), a film that introduced us to the excellent actor Pascale Bussières. Sonatine won five awards, including the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival. For Micheline Lanctôt, film is about the silences and about what is not said; it plays without a safety net. She makes uncompromising films and is known for her respect for actors and her love of teamwork.

Over the following years her career included films such as La Poursuite du bonheur (1987), Onzième spéciale (1989), Deux Actrices (1993) — which won the 1994 Grand Prix of the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois — and La Vie d'un héros (1994), which was shown at festivals around the world.

Her latest film, Le Piège d'Issoudun, was released in 2003. It addresses the work/family relationship, a situation the filmmaker knows well, having raised her children while following a demanding career. She also appeared in Les Invasions barbares, Denys Arcand's latest film.

She has received numerous awards, including two lifetime achievement awards, the Albert Tessier Award (2000) and the Governor General's Performing Arts Award (2003).

Undeterred by obstacles, Micheline Lanctôt continues to contribute to the vitality of our arts community with her creative and initiatory work. What a pleasure!


Bilodeau, Martin. "Partir en voyage avec Micheline Lanctôt..." Le Devoir. (November 15 and 16, 2003), p. E-10.

The Canadian Encyclopedia. "Micheline Lanctôt." Historica Foundation of Canada, 2003. (accessed September 30, 2004).

Le dictionnaire du cinéma québécois. Edited by Michel Coulombe and Marcel Jean. 3rd edition. Montréal: Boréal, 1999.

Lessard, Valérie. "Micheline Lanctôt aime toujours déranger." Le Droit. (November 10, 2003), p. 26.

Loiselle, Marie-Claude, and Claude Racine. "Entretien avec Micheline Lanctôt." 24 images. No. 70 (December-January 1993-1994), p. 6-12.

Pérusse, Denise. Micheline Lanctôt : la vie d'une héroïne : entretiens. Montréal: Éditions de l'Hexagone, 1995.

Les prix du Québec. "Micheline Lanctôt." Government of Quebec, 2003. (accessed June 7, 2004).
(available in French only)

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