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Arthur Lamothe

Director, Screenwriter, Editor
(b. December 7, 1928 Saint-Mont, France)

Arthur Lamothe is a film­maker whose careful research, analytical mind, profound commitment to exploring hidden social issues, and sensitivity toward the people and places he films inspired a new generation of social documentarists in Quebec. In over 40 years working in film, he has directed, produced, written and edited countless documentaries and several fiction works.

Lamothe was born in the Gascogne region of France and came to Canada in 1953, “with $4 in his pocket.” He worked in various jobs, including a stint as a lumberjack in the Abitibi region of northern Quebec, before entering Université de Montréal, where he pursued a degree in economics. However, Lamothe was already interested in cinema and began writing on film for numerous publications, including Images, Cité libre and Liberté. After graduation, he was hired as a writer and producer with Radio-Canada (1958–1961), which he left to join the National Film Board in 1962. In 1961, he wrote his first scripts for long-time friend and collaborator Gilles Carle — including the screenplay for Dimanche d’Amérique, Carle’s first film.

The following year, Lamothe directed his first film, Bûcherons de la Manouane (1962), shot by Bernard Gosselin and Guy Borremans, and now considered a classic of Qué­bécois cinema. Lamothe drew on his own experience working in the Abitibi to depict the harsh living conditions, loneliness and dependence of the lumberjacks, an occupation often romanticized in Canadian society. From Bûcherons to Le mépris n'aura qu'un temps (1970), the account of seven workers killed on-the-job that conveyed the wider issue of workers’ exploitation, Lamothe firmly established his vision of cinema as a tool for social commentary and activism — and a precise focus on the dispossessed. In his first feature length fiction work, Poussière sur la ville (1965), he chose to portray André Langevin’s award-winning novel about social position and the boundaries of private and public space. Among his projects in the 1960s, he directed Actualités québécoises, a series of newsreels that the major networks refused to broadcast.

Lamothe is particularly well known for his documentary films on First Peoples, which are some of his most ambitious. Chronique des Indiens du Nord-Est du Québec is a remarkable series of 13 long- and medium-length films made for television between 1974 and 1984, which includes Carcajou et le péril blanc and La terre de l’homme. These and his other films — notably, Mémoire battante (1983) and the acclaimed Le silence des fusils (1996) — are significant films and insightful examples of ethnographic filmmaking.

Lamothe left the NFB in 1965 and started his own production company, Société générale cinématographique. In 1970, he and his wife, Nicole Lamothe, co-founded Les ateliers audiovisuels du Québec, where he proceeded to make most of his films. In 1980, he received the Prix Albert-Tessier, and in 1996, he received the Chevalier des arts et des lettres from France and was made a member of the Order of Canada.

Recently, Lamothe contributed to "Nous, les premières nations/Encounter with First Nations," a new permanent exhibition at the Musée de la civilisation. He provided existing footage and new work, including a series of interviews in which Aboriginal people react to the exhibition. The filmmaker’s current projects in development include a series of television documentaries, L'histoire des premières nations en Nouvelle-France, and a new fiction work, La fontaine aux salamanders, an autobiographical piece about the history of the Gascogne told through the eyes of a Gascon émigré to Quebec.

Film and video work includes

Dimanche d'Amérique, 1961 (writer)
Manger, 1961 (writer)
De Montréal à Manicouagan, 1963 (director; writer)
La neige a fondu sur la Manicouagan, 1965 (director; writer; editor)
Poussière sur la ville, 1965 (director; editor)
La moisson, 1966 (director)
Avec Buster Keaton, 1967 (co-writer with Donald Brittain)
Ce soir-là, Gilles Vigneault..., 1967 (director; writer; co-editor with Alain Godon, Pascal Gélinas, Pierre Larocque, Pierre Savard)
Le train du Labrador, 1967 (director)
Au-delà des murs, 1968 (director; editor)
Actualités québécoises series, 1969 (director in collaboration)
Pour une éducation de qualité series, 1969 (director; editor)
Un homme et son boss, 1970 (co-director with Guy Borremans)
Révolution industrielle, 1970 (director)
Le train du roi, 1970 (director)
La machine à vapeur, 1971 (director)
Le monde de l'enfance, 1971 (director)
Le technicien en arpentage minier, 1971 (director)
A bon pied, bon oeil, 1972 (director; writer)
Les gars d'Lapalme, 1972 (co-director with François Dupuis)
La route du fer, 1972 (director)
Le système de la langue française series, 1972 (director)
A propos de méthodes series, 1973 (director; writer)
Les corps célestes, 1973 (co-writer with Gilles Carle)
Chronique des indiens du Nord-est du Québec, 1973-1983 (director)
Qui? Quoi? Pourquoi?, 1973 (director)
Te promènes tu souvent sur un lapin?, 1973 (director; writer)
Ti-Louis mijote un plan..., 1973 (director)
Voyage sans détour, 1973 (director)
Carcajou et le péril blanc series, 1974-1977 (director)
La chasse aux Montagnais, 1974 (director)
C'est dangereux ici, 1978 (director; writer)
Le collier à lièvre, 1978 (director)
Le piège à martre, 1978 (director)
La raquette, 1978 (director)
Innu Asi: La terre de l'homme series, 1979 (director)
Vous avez droits, les autres aussi, 1980 (director)
Mémoire battante - 1e épisode, 1983 (director)
Mémoire battante - 2e épisode, 1983 (director)
Équinoxe, 1986 (director; co-writer with Gilles Carle)
Trinité, 1987 (producer)
Ernest Livernois, photographe, 1988 (director)
La conquête de l'amérique II, 1990 (director)
La conquête de l'amérique I, 1992 (director; co-writer with Jean Tessier)
L'écho des songes, 1993 (director)
Le silence des fusils, 1996 (director)