Remembering Festival Friends

SAFFMontreal pays homage, with profound regrets, to two friends who played a key role in the evolution of the festival in Montreal and in Saguenay

ROCK DEMERS (1933-2021)

Rock Demers was Founder (in 1980) and President of “Les Productions La Fête” and creator of CONTES POUR TOUS, Rock Demers has been involved in all facets of cinema (critiquing, distribution, export, operation, production). In early 50’s, he co-founded the magazine Images and established many film clubs. In 1958, after having studied teaching, he quit the country in order to travel across Europe and Asia for two years. On return to Canada, he joined the team that had just established the International Film Festival of Montreal. He became its Director General from 1962 to 1967. He was one of the co-founders of Cinémathèque québécoise in 1963 and established Faroun Films in 1965. In 1968 he devoted himself to Faroun Films, whose distribution of films for the youth rapidly expanded to more than ten countries. With the export of the film Martien de Noël and other films, such as Les Mâles (Gilles Carle), La Vie rêvée (Mireille Dansereau) and Les Smattes (Jean-Claude Labrecque), Faroun Films became the most important ambassador abroad for the nascent film industry of Quebec. Thanks to the brilliant success of the initial CONTES POUR TOUS, whose exceptional quality was appreciated by the public and the critics (215 national and international awards in under 30 years), the collection now consists of 24 titles and has brought Rock Demers numerous prizes, both national and international, among which are Prix Albert Tessier (Quebec), Companion of the Order of Canada and Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (France). Rock generously gave of his time to the cause of our festival over many years and was an important member of the jury since 2016. He played a key role in developing a partnership between the festival and Cinémathèque Québécoise.

PHILIPPE BELLEY (1981-2021)

Philippe Belley is known in the media and cultural scene of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean as a great director, producer and founder of Films de La Baie, a company specializing since 2011 in the production of documentary and advertising videos for television and the Web. Driven by a desire to tell our regional history in an original and sensitive way and to keep the collective memory alive, Philippe had an unorthodox life course. He worked for many years for ICI Radio-Canada Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, first as a columnist and then as a producer. In 2008, he began his work on video with short comic films. Then, he naturally turned to the documentary. His films Roger, Paulo and the sequel and The Queen of the Redfish and her Kingdom were successful when they were presented at various festivals. In 2018, his web series L’usine et ma vilaine mémoire de 9 ans won a Numix award in the Weblinear production – documentary category in addition to being purchased by the UnisTv channel. In 2019, a first documentary was produced for Radio-Canada. The film focuses on the integration of immigrants in Saguenay, with the backdrop of the International Festival of World Rhythms. This documentary, translated into 24 languages ​​and presented in 150 countries, will be shown until 2023 on Tou.tv., Radio-Canada and on Tv5 Monde. In 2021, another documentary Death at High Speed, focusing on the impact of the pandemic on funeral rites, was broadcast across Canada in May. Currently, a documentary is being prepared and will focus on Philippe’s challenge to his daughter to swim across Lac Saint-Jean. Philippe died on August 12, two days before his big crossing. The documentary will still see the light of day in 2022 and will certainly have a completely different connotation. Says Jayanta Guha, Coordinator, South Asian Film Festival of Montreal in Saguenay: “Philippe Belley, from the start, was very enthusiastic that the South Asian Film Festival of Montreal would find a place in Saguenay. He always enjoyed being a moderator during the screening sessions and very much appreciated the effort of the Kabir Center to give the people of Saguenay the opportunity to see such films. The coordination team in collaboration with the Libraries of Saguenay deeply regrets the premature death of Philippe Belley”.