Born in France, Jean-Daniel Lafond taught philosophy, was a film critic and a theoretician. He also carried out research in educational sciences and specialized in media pedagogy. He came to Canada in 1974 as a Visiting Professor at the Université de Montréal. He became a Canadian citizen in 1981. As of 1983, he devoted his time to cinema, writing, radio and theatre. In 1985, he directed his first feature-length documentary, Dream Tracks, for Canada’s National Film Board (NFB).
He has since written and directed more than 15 films that embody his commitment to creative documentary filmmaking such as: Freedom Outraged, Haiti in All Our Dreams, Last Call For Cuba, Barbarian Files, Tropic North, The American Fugitive or The Truth About Hassan, Madwoman of God. His films and books (Le film sous influence, La Manière Nègre, Conversations in Tehran, and others) have received numerous awards in Canada and abroad, including the Prix Lumières in 1999 and several Geminis. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2005, an elected Member of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts (RCA) and a Chevalier of Arts and Letters (France). He received the Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
He is married to the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Canada’s 27th Governor General, and actively contributed to the office by creating and animating three ambitious collaborative projects: the Art Matters forums (40 in Canada and a dozen abroad during State visits), the Citizen Voices interactive website and the Governor General’s Award in Celebration of the Nation’s Table (2010).
On October 2010, at the end of the mandate, he contributed to the establishment of his wife’s legacy: The Michaëlle Jean Foundation (www.fmjf.ca), which he co-chairs with her. He was named a Senior Scholar at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Carleton University (Ottawa) and continues his career as a filmmaker and writer.