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Directed byDorothy Todd Henaut
Produced byKathleen Shannon, Barbara Janes
Written byMarthe Blackburn, Dorothy Todd Henaut, Louky Bersianik, Jovette Marchessault, Nicole Brossard
Narrated byAnne Skinner
Music byAnne Lauber
CinematographyZoe Dirse, David de Volpi
Edited byJanice Brown, Pascale Laverriere, Dorothy Todd Henaut
Studio D, National Film Board of Canada
Release date
Running time
84 minutes

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Firewords is a Studio D documentary from the National Film Board of Canada about three Quebec writers, Louky Bersianik, Jovette Marchessault and Nicole Brossard, who have contributed to a distinction in women's literature. The authors' work  conveys the politics of language, as well as each woman's style, concerns and rhythms. Personal and global issues including relationships, work, justice, poverty, and loneliness are covered from a feminist perspective.[1][2]

The film is presented in three parts and structured using excerpts from the writers’ works to punctuate their interviews. Additional visual resources are used to emphasize their words.[3]


Part 1: Louky Bersianik[edit]

Louky Bersianik is a Québec feminist author who writes to ‘create new archetypes.’ She is a satirist working in positive parody, covering themes of a better world, laughter, joy, and life.[1]

Part 2: Jovette Marchessault[edit]

Jovette Marchessault unearths the work and ideas of women whom history has erased from our collective memory. She interweaves writing with oral tradition. Her monologue Night Cows is performed by Montreal actress Pol Pelletier.[1]

Part 3: Nicole Brossard[edit]

Nicole Brossard is an we enter an avant-garde poet and leading figure of post-modern feminist writing in Québec. She writes about urban landscapes and comments on the fragmentation of women in a patriarchical landscape. Brossard has written 13 books of poetry (two have won the Governor General's Award) and seven prose works.[1]


Firewords introduced Bersianik, Marchessault, and Brossard, three notable Quebec authors intimately tied to emerging feminist thought and practice in Canada, to an international audience.[3]

The film is currently on reserve at the Film Reference Library and CIBC Canadian Film Library at the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) Bell Lightbox.

Praise and Criticism[edit]

Nancy Baele, from The Ottawa Citizen (1987) writes that the film is a "provocative and polemical study of three Quebec writers."[4]

Sherry Simon praises Firewords for being "over and above its portrayal of these women" and "self-consciously different and convinced of the need to open up a new cultural space."[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Canada, National Film Board of, Firewords: Louky Bersianik, Jovette Marchessault, Nicole Brossard, retrieved 2019-03-26
  2. "Firewords: Louky Bersianik, Jovette Marchessault, Nicole Brossard – Rise Up! Feminist Digital Archive". riseupfeministarchive.ca. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Simon, Sherry (1987). "Film Reviews - Firewords". Cinema Canada. 0 (0). ISSN 1918-879X.
  4. Baele, Nancy (September 30, 1987). "Fireworks in film of 3 writers out to change society". The Ottawa Citizen.

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