Jean-Marie Poitevin (1907-1987)

An Enterprising Missionary
As a priest with the Société des Missions étrangères, Jean-Marie Poitevin was a missionary in China from 1933 to 1939. There, he shot many documentary sequences of ethnographic value.

God or Woman?
In 1942, he made À la croisée des chemins, an adaptation of Guy Stein’s play La folle aventure, which had been produced as part of Montreal’s three-hundredth anniversary celebrations. His assistant director on the film was the actor Paul Guèvremont, who played the lead role. Other professional stage actors, including Denise Pelletier and Jean Fontaine, also had major roles in the film.

La folle aventure tells the story of a student “torn between two loves”: his girlfriend and God, who is calling him to the priesthood. He chooses God, of course. The deciding event is a lecture accompanied by documentary images of China that a missionary, Poitevin himself, presents in the student’s college.

The film was the first feature-length sound fiction film produced in Quebec. It was not released commercially, but achieved enormous success in colleges and church parishes.
Poitevin went on to make documentary films in various countries, including India and Cuba, while carrying out administrative jobs in his religious community and in various national and international Catholic organisations.