Gilles Carle (1929-2009)

1997 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Film)

"I have pursued the secret road of filmmaking," says Gilles Carle, "searching for a secret order of things." This quest over nearly four decades has made him one of the cornerstones of Québec's feature film industry. Never a darling of the critics, each film seemed to elicit critical response, yet his body of work reveals the consistency and truth, humour and sensitivity, with which he has explored the lives of the ordinary Québecers who have remained his central subject.

Invited to Hollywood in the seventies, he turned it down, "too Disney", preferring to pursue the life of the independent filmmaker. He has produced nearly thirty features and innumerable other films, among the best-known La Vie heureuse de Léopold Z, La Mort d'un bûcheron and most recently Pudding Chömeur.

For television, he made dramas such as Maria Chapdelaine and the series Le Crime d'Ovide Plouffe, based on the Lemelin book. Yet he was no snob about doing TV commercials, and at one point was hired by all the major beer companies to do their TV ads.

A staunch defender of the National Film Board where he had his start, he returned in the mid-eighties to making documentaries: Jouer sa vie (about chess and politics), ö Picasso and Vive Québec. He defends the quality and freedom that the NFB offered filmmakers like himself and argues for its protection. His latest work, Une épopée en Amérique: Une histoire populaire du Québec, is an internationally-financed TV series that takes a down-to-earth view of Québec history and culture. Widely acclaimed in Europe and Québec, it will soon be seen in English Canada.

Above all, he revels in the sheer pleasure of filmmaking. "The gratification comes from doing it! You can't worry about what will come after."

He has won over two dozen Genie and Canadian Film Awards and has been awarded the French Légion d'honneur and the Prix du Québec.