Jean-François Caissy’s NFB doc Premières armes screens at Quebec City’s Cinéma Cartier starting January 18.

News release

January 9, 2019 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

After playing at festivals in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, Jean-François Caissy’s feature documentary Premières armes (First Stripes) is being released in theatres beginning January 18, in its original French version in Quebec City (Cinéma Cartier), Eastern Quebec and Montreal and in an English-subtitled version at Montreal’s Cinéma Moderne. Produced for the NFB by Johanne Bergeron, with Colette Loumède as executive producer, the film is a touching and humorous depiction of how civilians are transformed into Canadian Armed Forces soldiers. Premières armes is the third in a series of feature-length documentaries by Caissy (after La belle visite and Guidelines) that examine different stages of life—in this case, the transition to adulthood.

Theatrical screenings

Quebec City: Cinéma Cartier

Eastern Quebec:         January 28 – Rivière-du-Loup

January 29 – Rimouski

January 31 – Carleton-sur-Mer

March 11 – Matane

Montreal:         Cinémathèque québécoise

Cinéma Moderne (original French version with English subtitles). Cinéma Moderne will also be screening Caissy’s two other feature-length documentaries, Guidelines (NFB) and La belle visite, before January 18.

Festival circuit

  • World premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival.
  • Selected for a number of other European festivals, including Edinburgh, La Rochelle, and Namur.
  • In Canada, selected for the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM).
  • In the U.S., selected for the Camden International Film Festival.

About the film

Premières armes (First Stripes) 106 min

Thrown into an intensive 12-week training program, young civilians are gradually transformed into soldiers. Premières armes takes viewers on a nuanced and compassionate cinematic journey into the heart of military training and its necessary indoctrination process. With mixed feelings of apprehension and eagerness, the recruits gradually join the ranks of what will become their new family.

About the filmmaker

Born on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, in Carleton-sur-Mer, Jean-François Caissy is an independent artist who works in cinema and other visual arts. He first gained attention in 2005 for his debut feature-length documentary, Mating Season, which is about hunting. His next film, Journey’s End, shot in a senior citizens’ residence and released in 2009, won him recognition at the Berlin International Film Festival. In addition to being selected to screen at several festivals (including the BFI London Film Festival, the Visions du Réel festival in Switzerland and the Hot Docs festival in Toronto), the film received the award for best documentary at FICFA (the international francophone film festival in New Brunswick) and was nominated for Jutra and Genie awards in the best documentary category. In 2014, Caissy directed Guidelines, his third feature film and his first collaboration with the National Film Board, depicting the daily lives of teenagers at a rural high school. The film screened at the 64th Berlinale and enjoyed success with both critics and audiences. Adept at capturing microcosms of society and observing rituals, Caissy completed Premières armes, an NFB documentary about the lives of young recruits in the Canadian Forces.

About the NFB

The NFB is Canada’s public producer of award-winning creative documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences. NFB producers are embedded in communities across the country, from St. John’s to Vancouver, working with talented creators on innovative and socially relevant projects. The NFB is a leader in gender equity in film and digital media production, and is working to strengthen Indigenous-led production, guided by the recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. NFB productions have won over 7,000 awards, including 20 Canadian Screen Awards, 18 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 100 Genies. To access NFB works, visit or download its apps for mobile devices.

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Lily Robert
Director, Communications and Public Affairs, NFB
C.: 514-296-8261 |

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