Industry mourns Lauzon, Tougas

Montreal: The industry and public in Quebec responded with shock and great sadness at news of the deaths Sunday, Aug. 10, of filmmaker Jean-Claude Lauzon and actress Marie-Soleil Tougas. They died when Lauzon's light aircraft crashed and burst into flames on...

Montreal: The industry and public in Quebec responded with shock and great sadness at news of the deaths Sunday, Aug. 10, of filmmaker Jean-Claude Lauzon and actress Marie-Soleil Tougas. They died when Lauzon’s light aircraft crashed and burst into flames on a mountainside near the Melezes River, 160 kilometers south of the town of Kuujjuac in the Ungava Bay region of Northern Quebec.

Tougas was adored by fans who had followed her career on television since she starred as a 12-year-old in the TVA Network series Peau de banane, and later, as a teen and young adult, in Chambres en Ville, Les Debrouillards and Fort Boyard.

Tougas, 27, was exceptionally devoted to charitable works, firstly on behalf of sick children, but also in support of delinquent youth and young people stricken with stds and aids. Thousands attended a televised service in her memory Saturday, Aug. 16.

Lauzon, 43, buried in a private ceremony, was widely held to be one of Quebec’s great filmmakers along with the late Claude Jutra and Francis Mankiewicz, and Denys Arcand.

Lauzon’s two feature films, Un zoo la nuit (1986), produced by Roger Frappier and Pierre Gendron, and Leolo (1991), produced by Aimee Danis and Lyse Lafontaine, were substantially autobiographical in nature, and numerous collaborators described the director as an extremely creative and intense personality for whom making films was painful.

Lauzon worked as a director and partner in Montreal commercial production house Figaro Films International.

Un zoo la nuit went on to win a record 13 Genie Awards, including best picture and best director, while Leolo, which picked up three Genies, was widely considered a stunning, complex motion picture, for some a masterpiece. His 1981 short Piwi, which resembled Leolo after a fashion, won a Jury Prize at the Montreal World Film Festival in ’81.

Last week, Radio-Canada, cbc, Tele-Quebec and Showcase programmed both Lauzon features. wff president Serge Losique has announced an outdoor screening of Leolo Sept. 1 in the filmmaker’s honor.