1948 – 2012

Our dear friend, father, brother, colleague, militant, activist has passed away Thursday August 2nd, 2012, after a struggle with cancer.

Magnus, notre ami, père, frère, miltant, activiste, collègue est décédé jeudi, le 2 août suite à un combat contre le cancer.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Read friend’s words in this post.

Read The Gazette’s obituary and the report from the CBC. Et ici, dans le Devoir.

Marc Glassman, editor of POV magazine, had conducted an extensive career interview with Magnus about six months ago.

One word comes to mind when I think of Magnus: integrity. As an artist, as a family man, as a friend, he was always full value. He never let himself—or anyone else—down.

He came to documentary out of a profound desire to expose injustices in the world. Magnus had a deep sense of what’s right and wrong and he used his camera to bring to light the causes and concerns of at-risk youths in Montreal North, Canada’s Native peoples and the homeless in city cores. He was fearless, taking on institutions ranging from McDonald’s to the Quebec government.

Magnus’ cinema became more personal as he matured as a filmmaker. The wonderful duo in Art in Action, the feisty Choir Boys and the amazing Raging Grannies came to life under Magnus’ quiet and compassionate gaze. Without losing a sense of the political, Magnus created indelible portraits of people he came to know and respect.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with Magnus and his wonderful family—-Jocelyne and Bethiele in Montreal and Anna in Toronto. What’s struck me is that Magnus was ever present, participating to the fullest in his personal life as he did in his work as a documentarian. Whether it was riding his bike up the mountain three times a week or keeping an insightful and intelligent doc blog or having a dinner with family and friends, Magnus did it with commitment and style. His life and work is an inspiration to us all.

Marc Glassman

The full version of the POV interview can be found online here: POV Magazine- Magnus Isacsson- Advocate and Auteur. 

In the next while we will post some of the tributes that are coming in.

Salut Ti-Guy!

Commémoration Guy Tremblay
This past weekend I attended a memorial service for Guy Tremblay, a sometimes-homeless singer and volunteer worker affectionately known as ‘Ti-Guy’ in the shelters and soup kitchens in downtown Montreal.

The service, at the Notre Dame des Lourdes chapel on St. Catherine street East was warm and unpretentious, marked by the social context of an area that has a lot of marginalized people. The testimonies to Guy were touching, describing him very candidly as a sometimes-manipulative guy with addiction problems, but sensitive, generous and talented.

Guy was one of the main characters in my film Les Enfants de Choeur/The Choir Boys, about Montreal’s homeless choir, La Chorale de l’Accueil Bonneau, released about ten years ago. My terrific editor Louise Côté really liked Guy, and all his good and not-so-good sides were much in evidence in the film. People sometimes ask me – with a critical tone in their voice – why I included a scene were Guy, under the influence, pointedly tells me “Magnus, if you film me now I will…” He didn’t say #*$#@#, but it’s clear what he meant. Well, we showed him the fine cut, and he graciously accepted it without requesting any changes.

Guy was 47 when he died, one week after participating in his last concert. The homeless choir has come back to life, under the name ‘La Chorale sous les étoiles,’ the Choir under the Stars. They sang at the service – not a funeral, because Ti-Guy had been buried already in his hometown of St. Siméon.

The producer of ‘Les Enfants de Choeur’, Paul Lapointe, as well as the editor Louise Côté and DOP’s Martin Duckworth, Andrei Khabad and François Beauchemin join me in saying: Salut Ti-Guy, you enriched our lives and we are grateful for it.

Thanks to Tobi Elliott for her help with this blog.