Dreaming of a life in cinema, the young Acadian arrived at the NFB in 1953. He displayed a unique sensiblity from the start, sharing a script credit with Anne Hébert on La femme de ménage. He went on to collaborate with Roger Blais on Les aboiteaux, a film that brought him back to Acadian New Brunswick — where he would return frequently in subsequent years. At 29, with full support from colleagues, he became the NFB ’s first French-speaking producer. As head of Studio F, he oversaw the rapid expansion of French-language production. It was a period of remarkable creativity that gave birth to films like Les brûlés. Forest gave vivid cinematic expression to the movement for Acadian emancipation: Les Acadiens de la dispersion was the first installment in a landmark trilogy. His pioneering activist impulse lead to the 1974 foundation of the NFB Acadian Studio, where subsequent generations of filmmakers have advanced his vision. He retired to Moncton, continuing to write with habitual verve.
This interview is part of Making Movie History: A Portrait in 61 Parts.
Making Movie History: Léonard Forest, Alexandre Chartrand, provided by the National Film Board of Canada