Documentary filmmakers are in shock after last week’s suicide of Marcel Simard, founder of Montreal-based les Productions Virage and one of the most respected producers of social issue docs in Quebec. ”When I first started to make documentary films I was told there were two producers in Montreal who were good to work with. Marcel was one of them,” journalist and filmmaker Francine Pelletier told Playback Daily. Simard’s company produced Pelletier’s film about Cinar cofounder Micheline Charest, La femme qui ne se voyait plus aller, although the two first met in 1978; Pelletier is the godmother of one of Simard’s daughters from his first marriage. ‘It is an immense loss to the documentary community, which is already struggling,’ said Pelletier. ‘Virage was important to many people. The kind of films he made are increasingly rare. We have lost a role model and an important player in documentary film.’
Last year Simard founded a new company, Spectra Virage Media with help from l’Équipe Spectra, which runs a number of major entertainment events in Quebec, including the annual Montreal International Jazz Festival. A few weeks before he died, Simard had put Productions Virage under bankruptcy protection.
Born in Montreal in 1945, Simard trained as a sociologist and worked for a number of years as a researcher at Radio-Quebec. He was married to Monique Simard, head of the French program at the National Film Board of Canada.
- RS West ’18