October 16, 2017 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
The National Film Board of Canada is honouring the memory and contributions to Quebec cinema of Jean Roy, a cameraman, director of photography, producer, and director who passed away this week at the age of 88. He founded the NFB’s French-language independent filmmaker assistance program, ACIC, in 1973.
With an amateur film already under his belt, Roy started at the NFB in the 1940s. In 1949, at the age of 20, he went to the Arctic as a cameraman for films on the Inuit. He subsequently did camera work for all of the great NFB directors of the 1950s and ’60s in both English and French, including Bernard Devlin, Fernand Dansereau, Raymond Garceau, Jacques Giraldeau, Wolf Koenig, Roman Kroitor, Jean Palardy, and Louis Portugais. During this period, Michel Brault and Georges Dufaux worked as his assistants, early in their careers. With seven other camera operators, he filmed A Day in June (1959), an early example of direct cinema. In all, he was behind the camera for some 60 films, including the classics Land of the Long Day (1953) and September Five at Saint-Henri (1962). In the early 1960s, he directed a few NFB documentaries, including Foires agricoles (1962). Roy later followed Pierre Patry to the private film cooperative Coopératio, where he was the DOP for Trouble-fête (1963), the first theatrical hit in Québec.
Back at the NFB, he led the camera department (1972–1983) and was a cameraman on Games of the XXI Olympiad (1977), a film about the Montreal Olympics. In 1973, he founded a program—today called Aide au cinéma indépendant (ACIC)—to help fund innovative French-language films that would otherwise have difficulty getting made. For close to 45 years, thanks to Roy’s initiative, the program has provided generations of independent filmmakers (including Manon Briand, Denis Villeneuve, Anne Émond, and François Girard) with technical support to complete their films. Since its beginnings, the ACIC has supported some 470 films (animated, live-action, or experimental shorts, and all types of documentaries) by 407 filmmakers (162 women and 245 men). This contribution of Jean Roy to Quebec’s rich cinematic heritage also deserves recognition.
An interview with Jean Roy in Making Movie History: A Portrait in 61 Parts, directed by Denys Desjardins, is available at NFB.ca.
French-language independent filmmaker assistance program ACIC