Claude Jutra

Active - 1957 - 1985  |   Born - Mar 11, 1930   |   Died - Jan 1, 1986   |   Genres - Drama, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Originally planning to honor family tradition by becoming a physician, Canadian director Claude Jutra opted instead for filmmaking. Jutra won a prize at age 19 for his short film Movement Perpetuel, then wrote and directed for Quebec television. Together with fellow Canadian Norman McLaren, Jutra became one of the foremost avant-garde moviemakers in his native land (both he and McLaren are amply represented in the 1963 compilation film Seven Surprizes). After time spent in France and Africa, Jutra shot his first feature-length film, the award winning 1961 documentary Le Niger - Jeune Republique. The director's career took a dive upon the financial failure of his first non-documentary feature, A Tous Prendre (1963), but Jutra made a 1971 comeback with Mon Oncle Antoine, a semi-autobiographical account of growing up in a French mining town in the 1940s. Dismissed by Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide as "not bad, but nothing special," Mon Oncle Antoine nonetheless won eight prizes at the Canadian Film Awards, and has since been voted by a panel of film journalists as the best Canadian film ever made. Alas, there was nowhere to go from this triumph but downward for Jutra; in the '80s he learned he was in the early stages of Alzheimers'. In November of 1986, Claude Jutra wandered away from his home, never to return; four months later, his body was found floating in the St. Lawrence River.

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