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Jean-Claude Labrecque

Director, Cinematographer
(b. June 19, 1938 Quebec City, Quebec)

Jean-Claude Labrecque is one of the most talented Quebec filmmakers that emerged during the sixties. Known for his precise and meticulous documentary camera work and his devoutly nationalist feature films, he began his career as an assistant cameraman at the National Film Board and became an influential cinematographer and director.

While at the NFB, he photographed many of the key Quebec features of the period, including A tout prendre (1963), Le Chat dans le sac (1964), La Vie heureuse de Léopold Z. (1965) and De mPre en fille (1966), as well as Don Owen’s The Ernie Game (1967). He began directing in 1965 with his debut short film, the award-winning 60 cycles, and left the NFB in 1967 to set up his own production company, Les Films Jean-Claude Labrecque.

Throughout his career his interests have focused on matters of concern to the Québécois people, whether they be sports, culture or politics. An immensely thoughtful filmmaker who approaches his work with an intellectual passion, Labrecque has described his filmmaking as consisting of three categories: the documentaries that he calls "physical films," such as 60 cycles (1965) and Games of the XXI Olympiad (1976); the documentaries about language, which include La Visite de général de Gaulle au Québec (1967), Nuit de la poésie (1970), Claude Gauvreau – poPte (1975) and Marie Uquay (1982); and his features, which are about memory (Labrecque has stated that "it’s terribly important for the future of Quebec cinema that we speak about the past").

Labrecque’s feature films trace cycles of behaviour and belief that lead toward cultural obliteration, and centre around protagonists who are pitted in a losing battle against forces they cannot control, such as nature, history and technology. His first two narrative films, Les Smattes (1971) and Les Vautours (1974), best exemplify this tendency. The most dualistic of Labrecque’s films, Les Smattes tells the story of two brothers in the northern Gaspé region of Quebec who rebel against an irrational attempt by the government to resettle their village. Les Vautours is an eloquent and charming personal meditation on the state of Quebec at the end of the Duplessis era and the birth of a generation. Labrecque’s other notable features include the popular L’Affaire Coffin (1979) and the sequel to Les Vautours, Les Années de rLve (1983).

Winner of three Canadian Film Awards, Labrecque has worked in recent years more as a cinematographer than a director; he shot two impressive features by first-time directors in 2001, Catherine Martin’s Mariages and Bernard Émond’s La Femme qui boit, both of which were named one of Canada’s Top Ten in their respective years by an independent industry panel.

Film and video work includes

Kronos, 1961 (cinematographer)
Pee-wee sur glace, 1961 (cinematographer)
Sautapic series, 1961 (cinematographer)
Un Air de famille, 1962 (cinematographer)
Les Apprentis series, 1962 (cinematographer)
Bonsoir, Monsieur Champagne, 1962 (cinematographer)
Le Pantin, 1962 (cinematographer)
Jusqu'au cou, 1963 (co-cinematographer with Michel Brault)
Lewis Mumford on the City, Part 6: The City and the Future, 1963 (co-director; co-cinematographer)
Montréal-Manicouagan, 1963 (co-cinematographer with Jean-Claude Labrecque and Guy Borremans)
Natation, 1963 (co-cinematographer with Michel Thomas-d'Hoste)
Along Uncharted Shores, 1964 (co-cinematographer with Gilles Gascon and Bernard Gosselin)
The Child of the Future: How Might He Learn, 1964 (cinematographer)
Ciné boum, 1964 (cinematographer)
Escale des oies sauvages, 1964 (co-cinematographer with Bernard Gosselin)
Françoise, 1964 (cinematographer)
The Hundredth Summer, 1964 (co-cinematographer with François Séguillon and Terence Macartney-Filgate)
Un jeu si simple, 1964 (cinematographer)
Let's Discuss Smoking, 1964 (co-cinematographer with Bernard Gosselin and Jean-Pierre Lachapelle)
Mémoire en fLte, 1964 (cinematographer)
Patte mouillée, 1964 (co-cinematographer with Michel Thomas-d'Hoste)
City under Pressure, 1965 (cinematographer)
Pas de vacances pour les idoles, 1965 (cinematographer)
Ce soir-lB, Gilles Vigneault..., 1966 (co-cinematographer with Michel Brault, Michel Régnier, Claude Jutra, Bernard Nobert, Jacques Leduc)
A Great Big Thing, 1966 (cinematographer)
IntermPde, 1966 (director; editor; cinematographer)
Notes for a Film about Donna & Gail, 1966 (cinematographer)
The Purse, 1966 (co-cinematographer with Gilles Gascon)
The Summer We Moved to Elm Street, 1966 (cinematographer)
Valley in a River, 1966 (co-cinematographer with Eugene Boyko)
Volleyball, 1966 (co-cinematographer with Gilles Gascon)
Where Mrs. Whalley Lives, 1966 (co-cinematographer with Gilles Gascon)
The Invention of the Adolescent, 1967 (co-cinematographer with Paul Leach)
Les regates de Valleyfield, 1967 (cinematographer)
Un entretien sur la mecanologie I, 1968 (cinematographer)
Un entretien sur la mecanologie II, 1968 (cinematographer)
Étude en 21 points, 1968 (cinematographer)
La Vie, 1968 (director; cinematographer; editor; sound)
Canada the Land, 1969 (co-director with Rex Tasker; co-cinematographer with Michel Thomas-d'Hoste and Claude Larue)
Les Canots de glace, 1969 (director; co-cinematographer with Bernard Gosselin, Jean-Pierre Lachapelle, Claude Larue, Richard Lavoie; co-editor with Jean-Pierre Masse)
La Guerre des pianos, 1969 (cinematographer)
Vertige, 1969 (cinematographer)
Essai B la mille, 1970 (director; cinematographer)
Fleur bleu/The Apprentice, 1970 (cinematographer)
Les Maudits sauvages, 1970 (cinematographer)
La Nuit de la poésie 27 mars 1970, 1970 (co-director and co-editor with Jean-Pierre Masse; cinematographer)
La ConquLte, 1971 (cinematographer)
Les Corps célestes, 1973 (cinematographer)
Les Beaux dimanches, 1974 (cinematographer)
Québec fLte juin '75, 1975 (co-director with Claude Jutra, co-cinematographer with Paul Vézina)
La Veillée des veillées, 1975 (co-cinematographer with Pierre Mignot, Michel Brault, Bernard Gosselin)
Jeux de la XXIe Olympiade, 1976 (co-director with Jean Beaudin, Marcel CarriPre, Georges Dufaux)
Gaston Miron, 1977 (director)
Gatien Lapointe, 1977 (director)
...26 fois de suite!, 1978 (director; cinematographer)
L'Affaire Coffin, 1979 (director)
La Nuit de la poésie 28 mars 1980, 1980 (co-director with Jean-Pierre Masse)
Paroles du Québec, 1980 (director; cinematographer)
Marie Uguay, 1982 (director)
Reveillon, 1982 (cinematographer)
Les Années de rLve, 1983 (director)
Court-circuit, 1983 (director)
Le Million tout-puissant, 1985 (cinematographer)
Great Collections from the Montreal Botanical Garden, 1986 (co-cinematographer with François Beauchemin and Louis De Ernsted)
Les Vidangeurs, 1986 (cinematographer)
Brother André, 1987 (director)
Les Amis de la cinématheque, 1988 (director)
Bonjour Monsieur Gauguin, 1988 (director)
L'Histoire des trois, 1990 (director)
La Nuit de la poésie 15 mars 1991, 1991 (director)
67 bis, boulevard Lannes, 1991 (director)
André Mathieu, musicien, 1993 (director)
L'Autre côté de la lune, 1993 (cinematographer)
Une enfance B Natashquan, 1993 (cinematographer)
Roger Rochat, Philippe Amiguet, Susan Trow, et al.)
Le Feu sacré, 1994 (cinematographer)
Le Sorcier, 1994 (director)
L'Aventure des compagnons de St-Laurent, 1996 (director; cinematographer; story)
Parents malgré tout series, 1996 (director) (TV)