Anne Claire Poirier

2001 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Film)

In 1967, Anne Claire Poirier finished De mère en fille, the first feature-length Quebec film by a woman, marking the debut of a major body of work: "political cinema from a woman's point of view, engaged in the most important liberation movement of our era," as she herself described it.

Anne Claire Poirier was born in St-Hyacinthe, Quebec, in 1932. After completing a degree in law, she became an actor instead of a lawyer and after a short stint at Radio-Canada began working at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in 1960 as an assistant director and editor. Her directorial debut soon followed, with 30 minutes, Mr. Plummer (1963) and La Fin des étés (1964), her first fiction film, co-written with author Hubert Aquin.

In 1969 she and Jeanne Morazain developed a major series called En tant que femmes, designed to showcase Quebec woman directors. Of the six films she produced in that series, Ms. Poirier directed Les Filles du Roy (1974), a revised history of the first women to come to New France, and Le Temps de l'avant (1975), a disturbing look at abortion and the desire to have children.

In 1975 Anne Claire Poirier was named Executive Producer and Studio Chief of the NFB's French production unit. In this capacity she directed two Société nouvelle programs and began working on what would become her most widely acclaimed film, Mourir à tue-tête (1979), a passionate and rigorous denunciation of rape as "a political crime of domination." The film was screened at Cannes, and in Canada was seen on TV and in movie theatres by two million people.

This work was followed by two other films, La Quarantaine (1982), about a group of acquaintances who get together and are divided between nostalgia and the fear of aging, and Salut Victor! (1988), about two old men fighting an uphill battle. In 1989 Anne Claire Poirier returned to the documentary format with Il y a longtemps que je t'aime, a powerful montage of images of women in film taken from 50 years of NFB history. Her most recent film, Tu as crié Let Me Go (1996), is the profoundly moving examination of a personal tragedy.

In addition to her rich career as a filmmaker and producer at the NFB, Ms. Poirier has directed stage productions and taught at several Quebec theatre schools. She has been invited to participate in many prestigious festivals, from Cannes to Berlin to New York to Moscow.

Awards and honours include: Albert Tessier Award (Prix du Québec) for lifetime achievement in the arts (1988); Chevalier de l'Ordre du Québec (1985).