Québec actress Yvette Thuot, who was born October 13, 1918 as Marie Rose Yvette Pauline Thuot, was known for her work in features like La revanche de Madame Beauchamp in which she played the title character and the 1995 film Liste noire, which was the feature debut for director Jean-Marc Vallée, who would die three weeks later. She was 94 when she appeared in her last film, Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways and was 103 when she died on December 5.
Gérard Poirier began his acting career acting in theatre when he was 12. A graduate from the Collège André-Grasset in 1952, he became a teacher at the Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Montréal, the Collège Lionel-Groulx and the Collège Antoine-Girouard. His theatre work often took him to the stages of the Théâtre du Rideau Vert and the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde. He began to work in film and television in the late 1960s appearing at first in small roles in various Québec television programs. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1996 and an Officer of the National Order of Québec in 2007. He was 91 when he died in Montreal on December 12.
Christopher Newton was born in England, educated there and in the United States and became an actor in theatre. We’ve been unable to find a film or television credit, but we include him because of his impact on Canadian performers. In addition to performing with the Canadian Players at the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Vancouver Playhouse and the Stratford Festival, he founded Theatre Calgary in 1968 and he served as its artistic director until 1971. In 1973, he was appointed artistic director of the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company. There, he founded the Playhouse Acting School with his friend and mentor Powys Thomas. After turning down three invitations to be artistic director of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, he finally accepted the appointment starting in 1980. He stayed in that position until 2002. Newton was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1995 and named an Officer in 2018. He was honoured with the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 2000. He was 85 when he died on December 20.
Carmen Bourassa was a television producer. Born in Trois-Rivières, Québec in 1942, she worked at Québec’s Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur (Ministry of Education and Higher Education). Involved in a movement to allow educational television programs for children in schools, her work led to the creation of the program Passe-Partout with Louise Poliquin and Laurent Lachance. She was involved in the production of 125 episodes between 1977 and 1991. Other educational-based programs followed including Zap (1993-1996), Pin-Pon (1996-2000), Toc toc toc (2007-2014) and Salmigondis (2015-2021). Carmen Bourassa was 79 when she died on December 25.
The outpouring of love for the late Jean-Marc Vallée was to be expected. It seems that anyone who knew him or who had worked with him could only sing his praises. Warren P. Sonoda, writing as President of the National Directors Guild of Canada posted this on Twitter “Those who knew him will remember him both as a passionate, committed creator & also a gracious, generous man, quick with a smile and a kind word, supportive of cast, crew & peers alike.” Vallée got his start making music videos and short subjects. Music often played a key element in his work, especially in 2011’s Café de Flore. He made his ground-breaking feature debut with Liste Noire (Black List) in 1995. The strikingly stylish erotic thriller was a first for its genre in Québec cinema, and was honoured with nine Genie Award nominations. Ten years later, he returned to French-language features with the internationally acclaimed hit, C.R.A.Z.Y. It was distributed in over fifty countries and won some twenty international festival awards, 11 Genie Awards, 15 Jutra Awards, and the Golden Reel Award as Canada’s top-performer at the domestic box office. It is believed Vallée was getting ready to host people over the Christmas weekend at his chalet outside of Québec City when he suffered a heart attack and died on Christmas Day. He was found the following morning. Jean-Marc Vallée was 58. Maurie Alioff will have more on Vallée’s passing when he reports from Québec in January 2022.
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Ralph Lucas is the founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca. He began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.