Animation World Magazine, Issue 1.11, February 1997

Louise Beaudet: A Passion For Animation

On January 3, Louise Beaudet, perhaps the most famous and respected animation archivist in the world died of lung cancer. In her role as curator of Montréal's Cinémathèque Québecoise, she more than helped fulfill that organization's special interest in animation. Herein are a few thoughts by some of the people who knew and/or worked with her. But first, to provide some general background, we start off with the two part press release issued by the Cinémathèque Québecoise.

illustration by Jacques Drouin
Front half of cover illustration by Jacques Drouin from the Tribute to Louise Beaudet issue of the ASIFA-Canada magazine (September 1996).

International Luminary in the World of Animation
Louise Beaudet Dies at Age of 69

Montréal, January 7, 1997--It is with sadness that the Cinémathèque Québecoise learned of the death of Madam Louise Beaudet, on January 3 as the result of a long illness.

Louise Beaudet worked at the Cinémathèque Québecoise for 28 years. She was first hired to coordinate a large animation retrospective at the 1967 World's Fair in Montréal (Expo 67), she was then made Curator of Animation, a position she held until October 1996.

During her long career, Louise Beaudet manifested a boundless passion for animation. The international animation community acknowledged that she played a major role in established the validity of this cinematic genre. She authored a number of historical texts, essays and monographs. Her exceptional programming skills were frequently in demand by festivals for which she organized retrospectives which were always rich and surprising.

Louise Beaudet started the Canadian chapter of the International Animated Film Association (ASIFA-Canada) for which she served as president for more than 10 years. In September, 1996, ASIFA-Canada presented her with the honorary Norman McLaren Heritage Award at the Ottawa International Animation Festival.

In January 1995, Louis Beaudet was the first recipient of a new award created by ASIFA-East, in New York, to honor people who, while not being animators, devoted their lives to promote independent animation.

Her colleagues at the Cinémathèque, as well as the numerous animators in many countries who knew her, cannot forget her smile which was as strong as her passion for animation.

Summary of Her Career
Beginning in 1973, Louise Beaudet was Curator of the Animation Section of the Cinémathèque Québecoise, where she had been working full-time since 1968, after having collaborated in the Retrospective of International Animation for Expo 67.

She shared her knowledge of animated film with the Franco-Québecoise Office, the New York Animation Festival (she was a jury member in 1975), the Canadian Film Institute, at the Ottawa, Toronto and Hamilton International Animation Festivals, at the New York Film Library (at a 1978 symposium), the Sinking Creek Film Celebration in Nashville (1979), the Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of retrospectives of the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the National Film Board of Canada (1980, 1989), and at the Varna Animation Festival in Bulgaria for a Canadian retrospective (1981).

Starting in 1982, she was invited to prepare and present exhibitions on animation, organize retrospectives, or be part of symposiums devoted to pioneers and film archives by such organizations as the Musée des beaux-arts in Montréal, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Pacific Film Archives at the University of California, Berkeley, the San Francisco Film Festival, the Pacific Cinematheque in Vancouver, and festivals in Bristol, Brussels and Annecy (jury member in 1985), and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

She wrote articles for Québecoise, Canadian and French cinema journals, texts for exhibition catalogues at Berlin and Montréal (in 1982), and for works jointly published by the Cinémathèque Québecoise and Les éditions Pierre Lherminier in Paris (Les cinémas Canadiens), with the Cinémathèque de Toulouse for Charles R. Bowers ou le mariage du slapsticks et de l'animation and Du nouveau sur Charley Bowers. She is the author of the monograph, Á la recherche de Segundo de Chomon,by the Annecy Festival (1985) on the occasion of a retrospective of this Spanish pioneer.

She was a member of the Board of Directors of ASIFA-Canada from 1970 to 1979.

On January 25, 1996, ASIFA-East paid homage to her for her over 25 years of accomplishments: her building of the Cinémathèque's collection, her collaboration with numerous festivals, her participation and creation of special programs, her good taste in the field of animation, and her connivance (complicity) with the animation filmmaking community. Louis Beaudet is the first recipient of this new award.

--Translated from the French by Harvey Deneroff & Annick Teninge

Herbert Tisson, Louise Beaudet and Adrian ManciaLeft to right: Hubert Tison, Louise Beaudet and Adrian Mancia at last year's Ottawa Animation Festival.

Tom Knott, Warner Bros. Feature Animation (formerly Director, Ottawa International Animation Festival)

Louise Beaudet was a pioneer in every sense of the word, however she would not have considered herself one. Although not a filmmaker, Louise filled a role of equal importance, that of promoting films and filmmakers both old and new. More importantly, she ensured that many of these films would be able to be seen by future generations through her efforts as an archivist. No one had more passion for animation as an artform than Louise. In the world of animation she was a treasured icon.

While I was with the Ottawa International Animation Festival I had the opportunity to work with Louise on a number of occasions. She always provided the greatest retrospectives. The Festival was not a Festival without the presence of Louise.

Looking back on the current resurgence and interest in animation the foundation was not laid by such films as The Lion King and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but by the pioneering efforts of people like Louise Beaudet. Louise you will be missed.

Caroline Leaf, Filmmaker, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Every Wednesday evening in Montreal, Louise hosted a program of animation films at the Cinémathèque Québecoise. I counted on Louise's programming to keep me up to date and informed about what was happening around the world in animation. There were films from festivalsno need to leave Montreal to see the best of the festivalsand archival films, and often filmmakers were brought in. It was great programming. I will always remember Louise's chuckling laugh. She was really a lady, poised and sparkling.

Gerald Potterton, Gerald Potterton Productions, Montréal
With the passing of Louise Beaudet, the animation world has lost one of its greatest friends. Her kindness, humor, helpfulness and knowledge of just about anything to do with animation and its exponents around the globe was unique. Sleep well Louise, we will not forget you.

Hélène Tanguay, National Film Board of Canada

Remembering Louise

Louise Beaudet died of cancer on January 3. For the past 18 months, we both found ourselves going to the same hospital, as a little over a year ago I suffered a stroke. I spent many, many days during the last year at the hospital for tests of all kinds; at the same time, Louise was going through radiotherapy and chemotherapy. And we met more than once in the corridor. We were both going through some very difficult times. Thank God my health is good now. Because we were both home last year, we had the chance to visit more and think about life and how precious it is. Writing these words makes me feel happy and sad at the same time. I miss Louise a lot and, at the same time, feel very privileged to have been able to be together so much.

Louise and I have been colleagues and friends for over two decades. Her dedication to the art of animation really inspired me through the years. When I started at the NFB in the Festivals Office in 1970, I did not know that much about cinema and even less about animation. I loved cartoons, like everybody else, but was ignorant about Canadian and international animation. In 1974, the Festivals Office moved next to Norman McLaren and Grant Munro's office--what a way to introduce me to such a wonderful world! I am not sure of the exact date, but I think I met Louise for the first time in 1975. The Festivals Office collaborated constantly with her at the Cinémathèque Québecoise.

Louise is, as far as I'm concerned, the best animation programmer I have ever known. She always knew what to select and how to present it. The order of the films in every program was perfect. We all know how important it is for a film to be well programmed.

In 1979, I joined ASIFA-Canada and was elected to the board the same year. I spent the next 15 years with Louise working on special projects, organizing events, working on the magazine, doing numerous collaborations with the Ottawa Festival and it's many directors, welcoming international guests to Montréal like Yuri Norstein, Bob Clampett, Lou Bunin to name only a few. So many came to the Cinémathèque through the years. Thanks to Louise, as I met and discovered so many great animators, my life changed!

It was also because of her that I joined the ASIFA-International Board of Directors. I spent 6 years on the board with a fantastic group of individuals. Our meetings were more than long, but I have to say that those years were so formative and enriching. I met the Kinoshitas, Jerzy Kucia, Pat Webb, Nicole Salomon, and so many others dedicated to the development and promotion of animation throughout the world. I have been active in ASIFA for so many years because of her.

Louise and I worked hard and enjoyed working together. She used to say the same thing about me. We worked so well as a team. We had so much fun inventing new projects. We believed in animation and we loved animators. I still do, of course! We also wanted to have a strong ASIFA-Canada, that was representative of its membership. Canada is a huge country and we did our best to reach out and have personal contacts with the membership. I made so many new friends through ASIFA.

We both retired from the ASIFA-Canada Board a few years ago. I left the Festivals Office to become the Marketing Officer for the English Animation Department at the NFB. Now, I really work closely with the animators! It's really great to be around Wendy Tilby, Paul Driessen, Chris Hinton, John Weldon, Janet Perlman, and all the new "younger" animators.

I miss working with Louise. I miss our conversations on animation and cinema in general. I miss my friend.

When Louise died, she not only left us a big hole in our lives, Louise left behind a mountain of accomplishments. She was, is, and will always be such a force in the animation world.

Adrienne Mancia, Museum of Modern Art, New York

The following is excerpted from Mark Langer's interview with Mancia in last month's issue of Animation World Magazine.

The first international animation program I did at the museum was after the Zagreb Festival in 1972. Zagreb was different then, filled with freshness, vitality and humor. The work coming from the Zagreb Studio was so lively and inventive. I met Louise Beaudet there and we decided to collaborate to bring these films to North America--she to the Cinémathèque Québecoise in Montreal and me to New York.

The "Best of Zagreb" show was a success, and we began to bring in other venues, such as Edith Kramer's Pacific Film Archives in Berkeley and the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Boston. Increasingly, there were other venues that wanted the Zagreb show that Louise and I programmed, but we couldn't handle the work. We were able to do what we could only because Yugoslavia would fund cultural activities. The head of the Studio, Zelimir Matko, was an entrepreneur. He headed sales and marketing for the Zagreb Studio and he helped Louise and I bring the films we chose to North America by speaking to various producers and animators and encouraging them to cooperate with us.

Louise had the best animation archive in the world in Montreal and was my guide to all this. We decided that based on the "Best of Zagreb" show, we would do the "Best of Annecy" in alternate years. We also did a "Best of Ottawa" once and two "Best of Hiroshima" shows. These programs were always chronically underfunded. We would get travel and hospitality by being invited to sit on juries, by begging for hospitality from the festivals or sometimes a little from our institutions to cover print transportation, etc.

What I tried to do with the programming, a little subversively, was to draw it out for a week. With the "Best of Zagreb" or "Annecy" as an anchor, we would also program homages to filmmakers or present animation from various countries--Japanese animation, Khitruk, Pritt Pjarn, and so on. We did our "Best of..." until a year ago. Louise has been in ill health and wanted to retire. This, plus a shortage of funds stopped the program. Frankly, outside of the Cinémathèque Québecoise, I do not know an institution where the exhibition of animation is a priority.

David Ehrlich, Filmmaker & ASIFA-International Vice President, Randolph, Vermont

The following is excerpted from Ehrlich's obituary in the January 1997 issue of the ASIFA-East Anymator; in turn, it was based on a piece in the September 1996 ASIFA-Canada magazine.

I first met Louise in 1982. She was sitting on the patio outside of the old Annecy Casino sipping a glass of white wine with a few male admirers and she graciously invited me to sit down. After pouring me a glass, she asked me what I had thought of Paul Driessen's new film. I remember that in the first blush of wine to my cheeks, I uttered a few words of what I naively thought passed for wisdom. Louise gently smiled, placed her hand on my arm and said: "But my dear, surely you noticed that . . ." And she launched into one of the most thoroughly perceptive analyses of a film I had ever heard at a festival. Awed, all I could do was bring the glass to my lips and nod appreciatively.

Now, 15 years and a number of glasses of wine later, I am still a bit awed by this wonderful lady, by all the energy and charm she mustered to put together the 1982 Art of Animation show at the Montréal Museum of Fine Art (I say "charm" because who else but Louise could have talked the Czechs into parting with their whole Trnka collection!), by all the wonderful shows she single-handedly organized at the Cinémathèque Québecoise, by her leadership of ASIFA-Canada and by the professionalism and warmth with which she would always receive the visiting animators I would bring to her through the years. More than anyone I know in our family of animation, Louise represented the nobility and purity to which we all aspire. She was always honest with others and with her own ideas, and she continued to fight unhesitatingly and vigorously for what she felt was the highest form of our art. Thank you Louise, for what you have done for all of us. We hold up our glasses and toast you in all our languages, and I can hear you saying, "But my dears, I thank all of you for what you have done for animation! I've done nothing." Well, Louise, you've done everything and we love you.

For more on Louise Beaudet, we heartily recommend readers to take a look at the September 1996 issue of ASIFA-Canada, devoted to a "Tribute to Louise Beaudet," and includes 12 articles celebrating her life and career.

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