Filmmaker Gilles Carle dead at 80

Prolific Canadian filmmaker Gilles Carle died in the early hours of Saturday, after fighting against Parkinson’s disease for the last decade and a half. He was 80. He is survived by his life partner Chloé Sainte-Marie and by several children. A state funeral will be celebrated for him, the date of which shall be announced soon.

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Carle has directed close to 50 films during his career and won many awards. He’s also been awarded the National Order of Quebec and been made a knight of the French Légion d’honneur. He also co-founded the Éditions de l’Hexagone. His greatest commercial successes were La vraie nature de Bernadette (1972) and Les Plouffe (1981). I remember watching La vraie nature de Bernadette many years ago on TV. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea since it’s a rather rough and shocking movie, not really suitable for children, but it did make an impression on me. Many consider it his greatest film. I’ll have to watch it again. It appears that the National Film Board of Canada will offer a selection of his movies on its website starting on Monday. Maybe it’ll be a good occasion for this.

Carle was forced into retirement ten years ago because of his illness. Just a few weeks ago, his partner Chloé Sainte-Marie opened the Maison Gilles-Carle, a home for people who’ve lost their autonomy because of disease or age. Unfortunately he will never get to live in it. Sainte-Marie also successfully lobbied for family members helping disabled people to get government help.

Like filmmaker Pierre Falardeau who also died earlier this year (Radio-Canada, CBC), he will be remembered as someone who helped raise Canadian cinema to previously unseen levels of commercial and critical success.