Rock Demers (1933-2021)

1998 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Film)

A co-founder of the Montreal Film Festival, instrumental in the creation of the Cinémathèque Québécoise, advisor to governments, Rock Demers realized his true dream when he launched his immensely popular Tales for All collection of films for young people in 1980. Founder and president of Les Productions La Fête, he has produced and distributed quality films that reject the simplistic "good versus evil" formula of the vast majority of children's entertainment. Instead he's tried to convey the simpler, richer message that "while life is difficult, it's really worthwhile to live it!" As a result his films, among them The Dog Who Stopped the War, Bach and Broccoli and Vincent and Me, have been acclaimed in more than fifty countries where their gentle but real stories have brought universal truths to young people establishing their own values.

Demers believes film should "enrich and help", and he has eschewed the increasing trend to science fiction, the fantastical, even animation, "designed to scare and shock". He prefers contemporary settings - even his Little Red Riding Hood is set in the present day - as he strives to help young people identify with and learn something about the world as they move to adulthood.

He delights that people everywhere like his work - "it's a wonderful experience!" - and credits his own childhood spent close to nature and a truly harmonious family for his optimistic love of life.

Demers has produced several feature films and numerous documentaries, including the six-part Gemini-winning Pierre Elliott Trudeau: Memoirs. Among many awards and honours for his wise counsel and pan-cultural ideas are Officer of the Order of Canada, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres de France, and Italy's François-Truffaut Prize.