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Honorary degree citation - Robert Daudelin

By: Oksana Dykyj, June 2005

Mr. Chancellor, I am honoured for this opportunity to introduce Robert Daudelin, one of the true visionaries in the moving image archival world, a world undervalued through the common misconception that works of art, whether etched in granite or on celluloid, or even rendered digitally, simply continue to exist without archival intervention.

The moving image archival field is comparable to areas within Fine Arts in that there are authorities inside it with the talent to restore to life important films deemed lost and thus change the canon of film scholarship, or to build and protect significant portions of the world's moving image patrimony.

Clearly, without film archives there would be no film history. And similarly, without Robert Daudelin's creative vision for la Cinémathèque Québécoise, we would not have an internationally recognized institution providing access to our cultural and artistic heritage.

Mr. Daudelin's service to the arts is without question: without his dedication, la Cinémathèque Québécoise would not be the world-class institution it is today. As its Director for 30 years, he was able to explore new territories politically and from a curatorial standpoint as well as successfully venture into frontiers of high technology with the building and expansion of the Boucherville Conservation Center, the Cinémathèque's Documentation Center, and their Screening and Exhibition Facilities.

These facilities have greatly benefited generations of Fine Arts faculty and students over the years. But, I should make very clear that Robert Daudelin has also had direct influence on the arts through his championing of filmmakers allowing many of their films to find audiences. Upon his retirement from the Cinémathèque Québécoise in 2002, a great many filmmakers paid homage to his commitment and vision.

Monsieur Daudelin a également joué un rôle clé dans l'archivage de films étrangers. En 1974, il est élu au conseil de la FIAF (Fédération internationale des archives du film), qui regroupe les plus importantes institutions consacrées à la conservation des films, dont The Library of Congress, la Cinémathèque française et The Museum of Modern Art. Il en devient plus tard le secrétaire général puis le président.

Depuis 1996, il est rédacteur en chef de la revue de la Fédération, The Journal of Film Preservation. Dans les années 1960, il fonde avec des amis l'influente revue Objectif, pour laquelle il écrit régulièrement. Sa plus belle réalisation demeure le travail acharné qu'il a mené dans la promotion des films canadiens et québécois au Canada et à l'étranger en participant à des festivals, en s'engageant dans des organismes comme l'UNESCO, en faisant de la programmation et en écrivant des ouvrages et des articles sur l'histoire et les ramifications culturelles des films au Québec.

In 1987 Robert Daudelin's second passion merged with his passion for film. This second passion is for Jazz, and, 1987 was the year he made the feature-length documentary Konitz Portrait of the Artist as Saxophonist He fuels his love for Jazz by continuing his work as a programmer for the Montreal International Jazz Festival even after his retirement from la Cinémathèque québécoise.

In 1994, Mr. Daudelin was named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres de la République française. In 2002, he received a Prix du Québec, the Laureat du Prix Albert-Tessier, the highest award to be given in the area of cinematography. These public honours reflect the respect and admiration felt toward him in the art and film communities and reveal his work as a central influence on artists and colleagues.

Mr. Chancellor, it is a privilege to present to you on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Robert Daudelin, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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