Arcand was born in Deschambault, Quebec. He grew up in a devoutly Roman Catholic home in a village about 40 km southwest of Quebec City. He attended Jesuit school for nine years. Entering his teen years, the family moved to Montreal and although he dreamed about being a professional tennis player, while studying for a Masters Degree in history at the Université de Montréal he became involved in film making that gave him a new sense of direction. During his university days, he and several friends would drive 600 km to New York City every few months to take in European films playing there that were not available in Quebec.
In 1963, he joined the National Film Board of Canada where he produced several award-winning documentaries in his native French language. A social activist, he made a feature-length documentary in 1970 titled On est au coton (We work in Cotton) that showed the exploitation of textile workers. The film caused an uproar that resulted in it not being distributed… read more