To choose another film, click on the menu below
To view film clips, photos, synopses or press reviews, select an option below
Montréal, mon amour, mon histoire
A series of 5 documentaires on the history of Montreal
The rebirth of East Timor
For a limited time, the complete film is offered for viewing on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the rebirth of East Timor
The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez
Paul Sauvé: Désormais, l'avenir
Windows to Heaven:
The Art and Life of Guido Nincheri
A Separate Reality:
The Geometry of Love
Against All Odds:
Sylvie Fréchette's Story
Select a thumbnail to view slideshow
Norval Morrisseau burst onto Canada’s national scene in 1962 and became the first recognized native modern artist painting on canvas. “You see I’m a born artist, I guess, and that’s what’s my destiny is, to be an artist,” he said once in a CBC radio interview. “The only thing that I know is how to read and I know how to paint.” Photo, probably early 1970’s, courtesy of Dept. of Indian Affairs.
The self-taught artist became the single most collected artist in Canadian history, with more than 500 paintings in public galleries throughout Canada and around the world. “You give me fifteen canvasses here, and give me a pencil. I’ll sketch those things in five minutes,” he once stated.
From the beginning, Morrisseau was fascinated with the religion and the folk tales of his Ojibwa people. Early on, he was intent on becoming a shaman, a traditional spiritual leader. “I still believe in the ways of my people,” he explained, “The great spirit told me I will guide you and keep you every day.”
Morrisseau’s father was a white francophone man who played no role in his upbringing. But Morrisseau’s grandfather the Ojibwa shaman Potan Nanagoonas, depicted here in a frame from an early CBC film, was immensely important to the artist.
Another crucial person in Morrisseau’s life was Toronto gallery owner Jack Pollock (looking at camera) who met the artist while teaching drawing and painting in Beardmore, Ontario. “I didn’t discover him, he discovered me,” said Pollock once. Photo courtesy of Dept of Indian Affairs, Ottawa
By 1987 Morrisseau was a homeless artist with an out-of-control drinking problem, living on the streets of Vancouver. But things changed radically when the artist befriended Gabor Vadas, a young man who later became Morrisseau’s agent. Photo by Paul Carvalho
Morrisseau can no longer paint, but he sketches and dreams, surrounded by his paintings and artifacts he kept from his old studio. Photo by Andrei Khabad.
Vadas and his new family gave Morrisseau the stable family life he needed to stop drinking. “Our relationship is so close,” says Vadas, “that when I met my wife and when we had our first-born child, for a little while we had a lot of happiness. And Norval was thrilled.”
Paul Carvalho with Norval Morrisseau
The Film “A Separate Reality: Norval Morrisseau” was created for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Life and Times” series. It was first screened at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the National Gallery of Canada and Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario, in January 2005. Poster photo courtesy of Fred Catroll.
4 - 10