Claude Jutra – À tout prendre (1963)


Pierre Jutras wrote:
At the height of the Quiet Revolution, Claude Jutra brought Quebec cinema directly into modernity.

Take It All (1963) is the first autobiographical feature film made in Quebec using direct cinema methods and techniques. With its unusual aesthetics focusing on the free and intimate expression of the main protagonists, Claude and Johanne, the film was received with a mix of astonished admiration and righteous indignation. Jutra had dared to recreate on screen his own love story with Johanne Harrelle, one of the first black models on the Montreal and New York fashion scene. It was the first time in America that a bed scene was filmed with a white man and a black woman. Both freely engage in mutual confession, and the game of truth leads Johanne to inquire about Claude’s possible homosexuality. They also have to face the agonizing dilemma of abortion when Johanne gets pregnant.
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Claude Jutra – Wow! (1970)

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Nine teenagers act out their secret dreams and, between times, talk about their world as they see it, raising all the preoccupations of youth: authority, drugs, social conflict, and sex.

Wow! is legendary director Claude Jutra’s under-recognized epic of teenage angst and revolt, made two years before Mon Oncle Antoine. Jutra selected a group of teenagers as his documentary subjects, three girls and six boys, drawing out their opinions and attitudes about sex, politics, drugs, friends, parents, and the future. In true mentor/confessor fashion, he also drew out their intimate desires and fantasies, then dramatized them with his typically lavish NFB budget and the characters’ intense performances to make a docudrama episode film that is truly unique in the catalogue, if not world film history. Within our two national cinemas in which youth films have long been a privileged genre, Wow! takes the cake, resilient in its solidarity and tenderness (not to mention voyeurism), aching in its eve-of-Stonewall ambiguity. Added bonus: Wow! is the only NFB film ever to display nude trampoline choreography by the future producer and French studio head Monique Simard (and former elected deputy of the Parti Quebecois). – Thomas Waugh, Hot Docs Film Festival Continue reading

Claude Jutra – Mon oncle Antoine [+Extras] (1971)

All Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson

With Mon Oncle Antoine, actor Jean Duceppe established himself as Canada’s principle purveyor of eccentric relatives. Playing the uncle of 15-year-old Jacques Ganon, Duceppe acts as the lad’s confidante through the difficult coming-of-age process. The Canadian backwoods and the mining-town milieu of the 1940s are displayed to excellent nostalgic advantage in this retrospective piece from writer/director Claude Jutra (who also plays a supporting role). Though relatively unknown in the states (and often dismissed as unremarkable by below-the-border critics), Mon Oncle Antoine is regarded as a classic of the Canadian Cinema. The film won an unprecedented eight statuettes at the 1972 Canadian Film Institute Awards, including best picture and best director.
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