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Pierre Lamy

(b. January 1, 1926 Montreal, Quebec - d. December 6, 1998)

Once referred to by Barbara Samuels of Cinema Canada* as "a one-man national institution," Pierre Lamy was one of Quebec’s most successful and prolific movie producers. He earned a reputation as a supportive, encouraging and nurturing producer who personally rescued many films through his financial guarantees and professional expertise. Independent producer Louise Ranger, former head of L’Institut Québécois du Cinéma, called Lamy "the quintessential behind-the-scenes man," noting that he had a flair for teaching and genuinely enjoyed helping young filmmakers rise through the ranks. His career was personified by integrity and a characteristic modesty and his filmography constitutes a veritable curriculum for students of Quebec film culture.

Lamy was enrolled in the highly-regarded École des Hautes Études Commerciales at the Université de Montréal and began producing plays during his tenure as president of the university’s Artistic Society. In 1948, he moved to Vermont and handled administrative duties for the Trapp Family Singers. He returned to Montreal in 1956 and got his first taste of film production as a pioneering administrator of the youth section at Radio-Canada, where he produced Quebec’s first television series, Radisson. He left Radio-Canada in 1958 to work with Fernand Séguin’s Niagara Films Inc. in Montreal, where he produced numerous promotional and informational programmes for television (Le Roman de la science, Par le trou de la serrure, Les Insolences d’une camera, L’Homme devant la science). In 1962, he founded Onyx Films with his brother André, who would go on to become executive director of the Canadian Film Development Corporation/Telefilm Canada.

Onyx was, in many ways, the birthplace of the Quebec cinema boom of the sixties. The company’s original talent-laden roster, aside from the Lamy brothers, included Denis and Claude Héroux, Gilles Carle and Guy and Claude Fournier. In addition to its steady output of educational TV fare, Onyx produced such important Quebec features as Carle’s Le Viol d’une jeune fille douce (1968), Red (1970), Les Mâles (1971) and Claude Fournier’s record-breaking Deux femmes en or (1970). Producer Harry Gulkin (quoted in Cinema Canada) described Onyx in 1982 as "a structure which has not yet been replaced in all of Canada, a set-up within which a group of directors and producers worked as a team, discussed projects, gave each other moral support." That support was often more than just moral in nature: Lamy was personally responsible for giving Claude Jutra access to the equipment and facilities – free of charge – necessary to complete his first feature, the seminal A tout prendre (1964).

Lamy left Onyx in 1971 and teamed with Carle to form Les Productions Carle-Lamy Ltée. It was here that Lamy, while continuing to produce all of Carle’s films, would support, develop and collaborate with virtually all of Quebec’s major directors, including Denys Arcand, Jean-Claude Labrecque, André Brassard and Jutra, to name only a few. During this period, Lamy produced such Quebec cinematic milestones as Carle’s Les Smattes (1972), La Vraie Nature de Bernadette (1972), La Mort d’un bfcheron (1972) and La TLte de Normande St-Onge (1975), Jutra’s Kamouraska (1973), Brassard’s Il était une fois dans l’est (1973) and Arcand’s Gina (1975). Taken as a whole, these films represent the high-water mark of Canadian filmmaking of that era.

After his split with Carle in 1975, Lamy took a brief sabbatical from producing to build two movie theatres in Beloeil, Quebec. He was also given the honour of producing the opening and closing ceremonies at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Recognized as perhaps the senior producer in the country, Lamy’s reputation for his well-honed administrative skills and his ability to save troubled productions preceded him: he was hired by the CFDC (now Telefilm Canada) to produce two significant English-language films, Joyce Wieland’s The Far Shore (1976) and Allan King’s Who Has Seen the Wind (1977). In 1979, he teamed up with Michael Spencer to form Lamy, Spencer et Compagnie Ltée and made his first foray into partial tax-shelter funding with Francis Mankiewicz’s Les Beaux Souvenirs (1980).

Beginning in the early eighties, Lamy was vice-president of the pay-TV channel Premiere Television. In 1981, he received the prestigious Prix Albert Tessier from the Quebec government for his outstanding contributions to filmmaking in that province; at the Genie Awards the following year, he was given the Air Canada Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Canadian Film Industry. He produced Jutra’s last feature, La Dame en couleurs, in 1985, then retired from film production four years later.

* Samuels, Barbara. “Marathon man: Pierre Lamy.” Cinema Canada, 42-3. April 1982.

Film and video work includes

Pas de vacances pour les idoles, 1965 (producer)
Jeunesse oblige, 1965 (producer; TV)
Place B Olivier Guimond, 1966 (producer; TV)
Place aux Jérolas, 1967 (producer; TV)
L'Expo 67, 1967 (producer)
Deux femmes en or, 1970 (producer)
Red, 1970 (executive producer)
Les Mâles, 1971 (co-producer with Louise Ranger)
La ConquLte, 1973 (executive producer)
Les Corps célestes, 1973 (executive producer)
Aux frontiPres du possible, 1973 (producer; TV)
Pour le meilleur et pour le pire, 1975 (producer)
Tout feu tout femme, 1975 (executive producer)
Les Chevaux ont-ils des ailes, 1975 (producer)
Chanson pour Julie, 1976 (producer)
Le Soleil se lPve en retard, 1977 (producer)
Mushuau innu: l'homme de la toundra, Innu asi: la terre de l'homme series, 1979 (executive producer)
Pukuanipanan: campement d'hiver oj est tendu le filet, Innu asi: la terre de l'homme series, 1979 (executive producer)
Frédéric, 1979 (co-producer with Philippe Garcia; TV)
Inniun nipatakanu: ethnocide délibéré?, Innu asi: la terre de l'homme series, 1979 (executive producer)
Ninan nitassinan: notre terre, Innu asi: la terre de l'homme series, 1980 (executive producer)
Les Beaux Souvenirs, 1980 (co-executive producer with Jean Dansereau)
Hockey, 1981 (producer; TV)
Contrecéur, 1983 (producer)
La Dame en couleurs, 1985 (producer; co-executive producer with Jean Dansereau)
Ernest Livernois, photographe, 1988 (producer)