The Choir Boys!
The Choir Boys!

The Choir Boys!

by Magnus Isacsson
A feature-length documentary following the surprisingly successful career of a Montreal choir made up of homeless men.
1999  ·  1h15m  ·  Canada
About the Film

For more than 125 years, meals have been served for a large number of homeless people in the reception centre L‘accueil Bonneau in Montreal, Canada.

A few years ago, a choir of around twenty men was formed from the regular clientele of the centre. Initially, the choir sang and played mainly in the streets and the subway, just to make a little money. Later on, the initiative was noticed by the media and the choir was invited more and more often to perform at special occasions, and they even made a trip to Paris.

Director Magnus Isacsson followed the members of this motley crew with his camera for more than 18 months. He attended concerts, but also registered what happened behind the scenes. The film focusses on the mutual relationships between the singers and their love-hate relationship with founder and choirmaster Pierre. With endless patience and a number of strict rules, he tries to keep ‘his men’ in line. When he establishes a system in which he withholds well-earned money from his choir members, to prevent that they skip rehearsals or immediately spend their salary on beer, a veritable mutiny breaks out. Nevertheless, it is clear that this group of people makes up a heterogeneous community, to who music is vital for their survival.

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

Festivals and Awards
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Nominated for Best Feature Length Documentary Award
The Quebec Jutra Award , Nominated for Best Documentary
Mumbai (Bombay) International Film Festival, Golden Conch for Best International Video over 60 minutes
International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Screened in competition
Cinéma du Réel (Paris, France), Screened in competition
Magnus Isacsson
Paul Lapointe for Erezi
François Beauchemin, Martin Duckworth, Andrei Khabad, Michael Wees
Louise Côté
Marcel Fraser, Hubert Macé de Gastines, Magnus Isacsson, Yves Saint-Jean
Magnus Isacsson
World Sales
Jean Vézina for Mediamax International, Mediamax International
Mediamax International
About the Director

Magnus Isacsson

Telling dramatic stories which bring crucial social and political issues to the attention of the public – that was Magnus Isacsson’s objective as a documentary filmmaker. In the last fifteen years, he specialized in feature length “process films”, following conflictual situations over long periods of time. Power (Cineflix 1996), told the five-year story of how the Cree Indians defeated Hydro-Québec’s Great Whale megaproject. The film received the award for best documentary at the Paris International Environmental Film Festival in 1997 and the Grand Prize of the Lausanne festival in 1999.  The Choir Boys (Érézi 1999) about Montreal’s choir of homeless men, was nominated for several major Canadian awards and received the Golden Conch at the Mumbai International festival in 2000. The feature length View from the Summit,  (Érézi 2002) is a multi-faceted view of the politics of protest, which the Globe and Mail called “remarkable…riveting”.  Isacsson also co-directed Pressure Point (Multi-Monde 1999), a film on the same theme that received the Quebec Film Critics award for Best Documentary in 2000. Maxime, McDuff and McDo  (Virage), his second film on attempts to unionize McDonald’s restaurants, was nominated for three Gémeaux awards.  Isacsson’s most recent films are ‘The Battle of Rabaska’ ( with Martin Duckworth, ONF 2008) and Art in Action (Amazone Films 2009) which received the Prix Gémeaux for best portrait or biography in 2011. Isacsson received the 2004 Prix Lumières from the Quebec directors’ association. ( ARRQ.)

Magnus Isacsson was born in Sweden in 1948. He immigrated to Canada in 1970 and became a Canadian citizen in 1978. He is fluent in Swedish, English and French and understands Spanish. After studying political science at the Universities of Stockholm and Montreal, Isacsson started his career as a radio producer for Swedish Broadcasting and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation from 1972 to 1980. From 1980 to 1986 he directed numerous current affairs reports and investigative stories for the English and French television networks of the CBC, for programs such as Le Point, Contrechamp and The Fifth Estate.

Isacsson taught audiovisual production at l’INIS, the Quebec film school, and at several universities, including Whitman College in Washington State, the University of Montreal and Concordia U. In the mid-eighties he taught video production in Zimbabwe and South Africa for Montreal-based Vidéo Tiers Monde (Third World Video). He directed an instructional tape on video production, which received the award for best audiovisual production from the Association for Audiovisual Teaching Techniques in 1991. He was a member and former co-chair of the Documentary Association of Canada (DOC), a member of the Association des Réalisateurs et Réalisatrices du Québec (ARRQ), and of SARTEC. He was also vice-president of the Observatoire du documentaire.

Isacsson passed away in 2012.

Other films by Magnus Isacsson