Jean-Claude Lauzon was no stranger to the tougher side of Montreal life and used his experiences and insights to make two highly acclaimed, realistic accounts, Un Zoo, La Nuit (1987) and Leolo (1993). Though not fully appreciated in the U.S., these efforts were popular worldwide and heralded a dynamic new talent, one that was never fully realized as Lauzon preferred making television commercials and flying his Cessna 180 into the wilderness of northern Quebec. Born and raised in a Montreal ghetto, Lauzon dropped out of high school and spent several years working jobs ranging from factory work to taxi driving to scuba diving. His comrades tended to be bikers, gang members, and small-time crooks until he met Andre Petrowski of the National Film Board of Canada. It was he who convinced Lauzon to enroll in the University of Quebec, Montreal. While there Lauzon experimented with filmmaking and created two notable short films shot on 16 mm film. The first, Super Marie, won him the Norman McLaren Grand Prize at the 1979 Canadian Student Film Festival. The second, Piwi, which he made while visiting the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, garnered him the Jury Prize at the 1981 Montreal World Film Festival. He made Un Zoo, La Nuit after spending several years making television commercials in Montreal. Following its world premiere at the Directors Fortnight Sidebar in Cannes, his film returned home to win an unprecedented 13 Genie (the Canadian equivalent to an Oscar) awards and the Golden Reel Award for earning the most box-office receipts in the country. Leolo did not win as many awards, but it was one of the most popular films abroad in 1992. After its success many American and Canadian producers were soliciting Lauzon, but he wanted none of it and returned to making commercials in Quebec. He and his girlfriend, popular television actress Marie Soleil Tougas, died on August 10, 1997, when his plane crashed in upper Quebec.