Léo-Ernest Ouimet (1877-1972)
Léo-Ernest Ouimet was a visionary and man of action. A pioneer of animated views, he was an innovator and key figure in the history of Quebec cinema. Producer, director, distributor and exhibitor, Ouimet opened the “Ouimetoscope” in 1906, Montreal’s first movie theatre. Ouimet filmed actualities and presented them alongside foreign films. Because of him, Quebecers saw themselves on screen, in such Ouimet productions as L’incendie de Trois-Rivières (1908), Les fêtes du Tricentenaire de Québec (1908) and Le congrès eucharistique de Montréal (1910).
However, these films displeased American companies and the Catholic Church, which would soon become obstacles to Ouimet and bring him to ruin. Unrelenting, Ouimet returned to film production and distribution during the First World War. Despite difficult economic conditions, Ouimet produced the feature film comedy, Le feu qui brûle (1918). However, stiff competition impeded its success. A later attempt at feature-length filmmaking in the United States led to the production of Why Get Married?, though once again Ouimet’s efforts were unsuccessful. In the 1930s, he returned to distribution and exhibition. Unfortunately, this venture came up short as well. For the last twenty years of his career, Ouimet occupied a series of menial jobs. A man of great stature and almost certainly ahead of his time, Ouimet continues to be an important figure in the pantheon of Quebec cinema, even though his films have mostly been lost.
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Bioscope en l'an 1900
More info
Bélanger, Léon H. 1978. Les Ouimetoscopes: Léo-Ernest Ouimet et les débuts du cinéma québécois. Montréal: VLB.