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Norval Morrisseau

Written, Directed, Edited, and Produced by Paul Carvalho in Collaboration with the CBC


This is the story of one of the most celebrated, most original and most notorious artist in Canadian history. Norval Morrisseau, an aboriginal from the Ojibway tribe, taught himself to draw and paint in the 1950’s so as to give visual expression to his grandfather’s shamanistic dreams. His works received instant national acclaim when first exhibited in Toronto in 1962. But what unfolded was a tragic and sometimes bizarre personal life that mixed intentional homelessness, public alcoholism and even an entanglement with the Mafia. Yet Morrisseau still managed to become the country’s most collected painter, with some 800 canvasses held by public galleries, and to invent a painting style, subsequently called the Woodland school, that has become an important form of expression for many native artists in North America.

This is the first-ever one-hour documentary about the life of Norval Morrisseau. It has privileged access to Morrisseau’s adoptive son, Gabor Vadas, to his biological son David Morrisseau and to the artist himself in the final days of his life.

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