A drawing of a young boy with an oversized head, a character from BLA BLA, an interactive website produced by Vincent Morisset in 2011.

Press Releases & Media Kits

The National Film Board of Canada launches The Champions series on its new online Screening Room

Press release

2009/04/16

Donald Brittain’s films about Pierre Elliott Trudeau
and René Lévesque go free online on Friday, April 17

Montreal, April 16, 2009 – On Friday, April 17, the National Film Board of Canada will be launching The Champions, Parts 1, 2 and 3, Donald Brittain’s seminal documentary series on the lives of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and René Lévesque on NFB.ca. The online release of these films coincides with the date (April 20, 1968) that Pierre Elliott Trudeau first took office as prime minister of Canada.

The three films – Part 1: Unlikely Warriors (1978), Part 2: Trappings of Power (1978) and Part 3: The Final Battle (1986) – trace the careers of Trudeau and Lévesque from the 1950s to 1986. In focusing on two of Canada’s chief political protagonists, the series chronicles events such as Lévesque leaving the Liberal party, Trudeau becoming federal Minister of Justice, Trudeau’s electoral victories, the October Crisis, the rise to power of the PQ, the drama of the first Quebec referendum and the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution.

Using a combination of rare photos, newsreel footage and interviews with close political colleagues, the films provide background on the struggle between these two men and their ideologies and illuminate significant turning points in Canadian history.

In an interview director Donald Brittain once said, “When people came to me to do a film on Trudeau, I said no. When people came to do a film on Lévesque, I said no. When they came to me and said, ‘Do a film on Lévesque and Trudeau,’ then I got interested right away…they’d been allies and they had been enemies…and so now I’ve got a drama.”

In crafting these films, producer Adam Symansky notes that Brittain was “drawing mythical figures. These were the last larger-than-life Canadian politicians. They believed what they said about culture and society and they were the embodiment of their beliefs.”

About NFB.ca

The world changes, our stories live on – that’s the National Film Board of Canada’s pledge to Canadians as it marks its 70th anniversary in 2009 with a new national online Screening Room and a slate of bold, innovative productions. Launched on January 21, 2009 and available 24/7 in both of Canada’s official languages, the NFB’s online Screening Room provides Canadians with a unique screening experience: high quality, free viewing of over 1,000 productions from the NFB’s vast collection – a true national treasure. From the latest releases to rare classics dating back to 1928, and featuring award-winning documentaries, animation and fiction, the Screening Room now gives Canadians from all regions the opportunity to browse, discover and enjoy the stories that bind us together. For more information, visit NFB.ca.

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Interviews/promotional materials: NFB media relations

Melissa Than, NFB publicist
416-952-8960, m.than@nfb.ca

Jennifer Mair, NFB publicist
416-954-2045, j.mair@nfb.ca