Denys Arcand

The most internationally successful filmmaker to emerge from Quebec, Canadian writer-director Denys Arcand transitioned from activist documentarian to insightful observer of the human condition with several acclaimed feature films. Arcand first gained notice while employed at Canada's National Film Board when his politically sensitive textile industry exposé "On est au cotton" ("Cotton Mill") (1970) was deemed by the organization to be too volatile to be released for several years. He ventured into dramatic storytelling with his first feature film, the crime drama "La maudite galette" ("The Damned Cake") (1972) and ultimately found his thematic footing with the lauded societal character study "The Decline of the American Empire" (1986). Although English language efforts like "Love and Human Remains" (1993) and "Stardom" (2000) met with mixed to negative results, respectively, "Les Invasions barbares" ("The Barbarian Invasions") (2003) won Arcand the Best Foreign Language Oscar he had been flirting with since "American Empire." Branded an unrepentant pessimist by some, while heralded as a perceptive social commentator by many others, all agreed that Arcand was a talented filmmaker with something to say, not merely about his native Quebec, but about the world at large.