Sunday, October 04, 2009

Quebec filmmaker and sovereigntist Pierre Falardeau laid to rest in Montreal

MONTREAL - More than one-thousand people packed a Montreal church Saturday to pay their final respects to Quebec filmmaker and sovereigntist hardliner Pierre Falardeau.

He died of cancer last week in Montreal. He was 62.

Family members and colleagues, many choking back tears, recalled their former friend during the two-hour ceremony, which included signature Falardeau flourishes of strong language and stronger opinions.

Jean Falardeau spoke of his regret at not being able to hold his brother in the moments before his death.

"It's not fair, Pierre," he said. "When so many dictators and bastards die at 100-years-old."

Following in his father's footsteps, Jules Falardeau dedicated a text lambasting Quebec media and attacking stagnation in the province's sovereignty movement to those "fighting for freedom."

"You should never again turn your back on your most passionate supporters," he said, lashing out at the leaders of the Parti Quebecois dotted throughout the packed church.

"You were supposed to be our leverage towards independence and if you don't so anything, you have no reason to exist. You need to regain the confidence of Quebecers."

Falardeau's films, writings and commentary dealt with issues of Quebec nationalism. He remains one of Quebec's most eminent filmmakers, winning acclaim for his political films and documentaries, including the Front de liberation du Quebec thriller "Octobre" and for the 1993 documentary "Le Steak", about boxer Gaetan Hart.

The public funeral drew fans, friends, politicians and celebrities.

Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois and former premiers Jacques Parizeau and Bernard Landry attended the service, as did Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe.

Falardeau's coffin - draped in the Quebec Fleur-de-lis and topped with a blue-and-white bouquet - was carried into the stately church to chants of "Vive le Quebec libre" from sovereigntists gathered outside.

Duceppe remembered Falardeau as an artist and a man of strong convictions.

"He was a sovereigntist at heart and also a great movie maker," he said.

"A certain kind of Michael Moore. You don't necessarily agree with everything he said but at least he was saying something."

Bernard Landry also weighed-in on the filmmaker, who remained a longtime PQ supporter even as the party did its best to dissociate itself from his contentious remarks.

"Pierre Falardeau was essentially a humanist," the former premier said Saturday.

"He was an anthropologist by training. He loved his homeland, which is a virtue for any human being."

Actor Julien Poulin, who played the bumbling, buck-tooth federalist Elvis Gratton - the filmmaker's most famous and popular character - also paid homage to his friend on Saturday.

"Falardeau, today, Quebec now resonates with your silence," he told the church as he fought back tears.

"Goodbye to my friend, goodbye to the man, goodbye to the artist."

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