Joseph-Alexandre DeSève

Joseph-Alexandre DeSève, film distributor and producer, benefactor (b at Montréal 14 Sept 1896; d there Sept 1968). After a diverse career, DeSève began in the 1930s to import, distribute and screen films.

DeSève, Joseph-Alexandre

Joseph-Alexandre DeSève, film distributor and producer, benefactor (b at Montréal 14 Sept 1896; d there Sept 1968). After a diverse career, DeSève began in the 1930s to import, distribute and screen films. In 1934, he took control of France-Film, the company that controlled the marketing of French films in Canada and operated a string of theatres specializing in French films and shows. When WWII disrupted the supply of films, he decided to fulfil a long-standing interest in production.

He formed an alliance with Renaissance Films to found Renaissance Films Distribution, with the declared goal being to make Catholic films in Québec. DeSève imported technicians and directors from France and built studios. RFD produced 4 films, but DeSève soon realized that he would make more money distributing rather than producing Québec films, especially if he could monopolize screenings. Thus, films from Québec Productions, another large production company directed by Paul L'Anglais, supplied theatres. Still, DeSève backed 2 important productions in the decade after World War II, namely La Petite Aurore l'enfant martyre (J.-Y. Bigras, 1951) and Tit-Coq (R. Delacroix et Gratien GÉLINAS, 1952).

The advent of television delivered a stunning blow to local production. With the help of Paul L'Anglais, DeSève created companies to supply the needs of the small screen, but he did not limit himself to this role for long. In 1961 he founded CFTM-TV, the second francophone televison channel. CFTM, a rival to Radio-Canada, was not averse to commercial and popular shows.

Having fulfilled the dream of Léo-Ernest OUIMET to integrate production, distribution and screening, DeSève set up the first audiovisual trust in Québec. Proceeds from the sale of his assets after his death established the foundation carrying his name. Several university, cultural and health institutions have been supported by this foundation and, as a consequence, bear DeSève's name.


Further Reading

  • Pierre Véronneau, "Le succès est au film parlant français," Histoire du cinéma au Québec I (1979).