The Champions, Part 1: Unlikely Warriors


In Part 1 of this 3-part documentary series, director Donald Brittain chronicles the early years of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and René Lévesque. From their university days in the 1950s to 1967 when Lévesque left the Liberal Party and Trudeau became the federal Minister of Justice, Brittain attempts to get at the heart of what makes these men so fascinating.

The trick here was to create films about a whole period in Canada – the 50s, 60s and 70s – and not just about 2 men and their politics. This film was to be the embodiment of 2 separate tracks in the evolution of the country. When the first 2 films were completed, Donald knew there would be a third – it was just a question of when.

When Trudeau took his long walk in the snow in February of 1982, Donald knew that he had an opening for his third and final film. The crew waited all winter to shoot the scene. The delivery date loomed and there was NO snowstorm. Then one Saturday night while eating dinner, I got the call from Donald. "Have you looked outside? It's snowing. Big snowflakes. Get the crew, the racoon coat!"

It was Andreas Poulsson (Cinematographer) and his wife's coat that stood in for Trudeau. Donald had him walk into the wilds of Westmount Park, which Donald assured everyone was just like Rockcliffe.

From the playlist : Donald Brittain: Writer, filmmaker, storyteller.

The trick here was to create films about a whole period in Canada – the 50s, 60s and 70s – and not just about 2 men and their politics. This film was to be the embodiment of 2 separate tracks in the evolution of the country. When the first 2 films were completed, Donald knew there would be a third – it was just a question of when.

When Trudeau took his long walk in the snow in February of 1982, Donald knew that he had an opening for his third and final film. The crew waited all winter to shoot the scene. The delivery date loomed and there was NO snowstorm. Then one Saturday night while eating dinner, I got the call from Donald. "Have you looked outside? It's snowing. Big snowflakes. Get the crew, the racoon coat!"

It was Andreas Poulsson (Cinematographer) and his wife's coat that stood in for Trudeau. Donald had him walk into the wilds of Westmount Park, which Donald assured everyone was just like Rockcliffe.

— Adam Symansky