French Documentary Unit

Located in Montreal, serving French-language projects across Canada.

At the French Documentary Unit, unique approaches rub shoulders with and redefine the boundaries of documentary tradition. Our French-language exploration of the genre is a never-ending quest to produce relevant and enduring works.

Who are we?

The French Documentary Unit is led by executive producer Nathalie Cloutier. It is a unique venue for creating documentaries and exploring the form, both in terms of practice and innovation. The Studio’s reputation and contributions to pushing the genre forward are widely recognized.

Ever since the creation of the NFB’s French Program in the late 1950s and the advent of the direct cinema movement, our filmmakers have used their cameras to document and understand the world around them. In doing so, they have discovered new formats, developed new technologies, and invented new cinematic languages. The establishment of regional French-language production centres—in Moncton and Winnipeg in 1974 and in Toronto in 1975—gave francophones across the country an opportunity to tell their stories and make their realities heard. These legacies are part of the Studio’s DNA.

Today, Canadian francophone filmmakers are bringing essential and universal stories to light, both at home and around the globe. Their works are marked by a strong authorial voice and unique visions, offering us new and often bold perspectives.

All of the NFB’s French-language documentaries developed in Canada are overseen by the Studio, which has producers across the country.

What are we looking for?

  • Powerful and meaningful subjects, addressed in an original manner, with the potential to make a real impact on audiences and society.
  • A clear point of view, an unusual angle, and a surprising narrative arc related to the topic.
  • An original approach and noteworthy access to the subject, participants, or events.
  • Proposals that consider diverse voices, genders, and communities.
  • An approach that challenges documentary practices and strays from the beaten path.

How to initiate a project

There are two ways to initiate a project:

  • A creator or team of creators submit(s) a strong idea, and we commit to providing creative support as producer (100% NFB).
  • We establish a partnership with other production companies to form a coproduction for a topic we are interested in and around which we build a team of creators.

To learn more about the processes and criteria involved in submitting your project, visit Propose a Project.

Feel free to send your project or questions to at any time.

What happens next?

Even though we receive a great many submissions at the Studio, they are all read and examined by all our producers. We hold committee meetings 10 times a year and do our very best to process your proposal within two months, after which we will send you a response.

Nathalie Cloutier
Executive Producer, French Documentary Unit and Eastern Documentary Unit
Christine Aubé
Producer, French Documentary Unit
Mélanie Brière
Producer, French Documentary Unit
Pierre-Mathieu Fortin
Producer, French Documentary Unit
Marie-France Guerrette Dempsey
Producer, French Documentary Unit
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