Claude Jutra: A look at the life and career of the Quebec filmmaker

Allegations that celebrated filmmaker Claude Jutra had sex with underage boys have prompted Quebec's film industry to strip his name from its annual awards show. Here's a closer look at his life and legacy.

Province's film industry shaken by allegations involving one of its most celebrated figures

Claude Jutra was an actor, writer and director who was considered one of the founding fathers of Quebec cinema. (Radio-Canada)

Allegations that celebrated filmmaker Claude Jutra had sex with underage boys have prompted Quebec's film industry to strip his name from its annual awards show, while Montreal's mayor says the city would move to withdraw Jutra's name from a downtown park and east-end street.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Screen Awards is removing Jutra's name from a special prize for first-time filmmakers.

Here's a closer look at Jutra and his legacy.

Who he was

Jutra was a director, writer, actor, editor and cinematographer born on March 11, 1930 in Montreal. He studied medicine but never practised, choosing instead to learn about cinema at the National Film Board of Canada. In 1959, he left for Europe and befriended influential filmmakers Jean Rouch and Francois Truffaut.

His films

His first full-length feature outside the NFB was A tout prendre in 1963, a New Wave-style film that earned critical praise, won best picture at the 1964 Canadian Film Awards, and is credited with helping launch a new era of Quebec cinema.
Claude Jutra made of number of celebrated film's, including Mon oncle Antoine. (Radio-Canada)

1971's Mon oncle Antoine is widely regarded as one of the greatest Canadian films ever made. Centred on a young man approaching adulthood in a small mining town in pre-Quiet Revolution Quebec, the film won acclaim in the U.S., the U.K. and France, and was a box-office success in English Canada. It went on to win more than 20 international prizes and eight Canadian Film Awards, including best feature film and best direction.

English work

Jutra's various English dramas for CBC-TV include the 1977 movie Dreamspeaker and 1979's The Wordsmith, from a script by Mordecai Richler. His 1980 film Surfacing was an adaptation of the Margaret Atwood novel, but was a critical and commercial failure.


Jutra's accolades include the Prix Victor-Morin and the Prix Albert-Tessier. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of the Quiet Revolution by the Quebec government for his contributions to Quebec culture during the 1960s.

A self-avowed separatist, Jutra refused an offer to be named to the Order of Canada in 1972, stating he did not believe in a bilingual or united Canada.

Later life 

In the early 1980s, Jutra was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. He continued to work steadily, directing and appearing in small supporting roles. He was last seen in the winter of 1986, and his body was found in the St. Lawrence River the next spring.

The allegations

A biography released this week stated that Jutra slept with young boys, while Montreal's La Presse quoted a man Wednesday as saying the late filmmaker began touching him when he was six years old and that the abuse escalated over a 10-year period.

Source: Historica Canada's the Canadian Encyclopedia