I live and work, think and write, within spitting distance of TIFF’s excitedly unfurling red carpets and splashes of sparkling entourages. My home and office is in Toronto’s film district, 20 minutes by bicycle from the yawning, yapping rush-seat crowds.

It’s that time of year again but the most I experience of TIFF are hyberbolic news flashes, racy chatter at cafes, breathless name-dropping, and the odd stretch limo parked at Price Choppers, with drivers presumably awaiting a pick-up request from some star or other.

These limos could fit ten Keira Knightlies, even in full Anna Karenina regalia.

TIFF 2012. Used to be I refused to use this acronym, so faintly pretentious. I called it “the film festival.” But alas I have succumbed. Now I even blog about it.

And yet, it is altogether so not important to me.

This is what is important to me: the stories in the everyday; tales of the everywoman or everyman. Today I’m writing an obituary for the Globe and Mail. The subject of this article, the she who nestles deep inside my thoughts today, is Jacqueline McClintock.

As it happens, Jacqueline coached over a thousand Canadian actors. She taught three actors who appeared in Barney’s Version, a 2010 TIFF cause celebre. Along with Paul Giametti, these three touched down on the noteworthy red Toronto rug.*

But more about Jacqueline: how the ordinary, the fiction of life, makes such great art.

In 1957, Jacqueline was born into a family of nine children in rural Quebec. Her father, a lumberjack, died in a car accident when she was 18 months old. Her mother fell apart; the baby was sent off to live with in-laws–a couple who had recently lost their own child.

Jacqueline was placed in this dead daughter’s crib, beside the baby’s picture; she was a de facto replacement.

Jacqueline’s friend and colleague, Gavin Drummond,  said she spent her earliest years quite urgently trying to satisfy the template, to be a good girl just like the deceased daughter would have been.

“It’s like something in a Dickens,” he said. “This was the seed to her becoming so incredible at reading human behaviour.”

Jacqueline called herself an orphan; she named her Montreal studio L’Atelier Orphanspace. Meanwhile, she had nearly a dozen siblings, all of whom identify as rural francophone. Jacqueline was through-and-through anglophone, raised by the Irish-Canadian side of the family. She spent much of her time in Germany, Holland, Spain, Manhattan.

Not sure how much of these details will make it into the published obituary but they stun me with their particular and peculiar subtlety and beauty. Being on the borders of TIFF, recognizing these gifts of people’s lives, is precisely where I want to remain. Meanwhile, thank you Jacqueline for coaching many of our finest talents.

*Anna Hopkins, Scott Speedman, Rachelle Lefevre


About Nor

I'm a creative non-fiction writer, with a special interest in memoirs and obituaries--life stories, local histories with flesh & blood anecdotal details. I'm also beginning to create podcasts of people's stories and expanding their audiences. I'm a diarist, an editor, and a political activist. I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and spend days tapping keys or staining my fingers in ink.
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One Response to AhoyTIFF!

  1. irenemcclintock says:

    Je vous remercie ,je suis la seule soeur de Jacqueline et 8 frères .Elle n’a jamais été orpheline puisque notre mère est décédée en 2010. Il y a toujours des non dit dans une histoire .La vérité, ma mère était une mère exceptionnelle .En 1958 elle a perdu son mari puis 2 fils gravement blessés dans cette accident, Il en a fallu du temps pour guérir de cette épreuve. Mon père achetait des coupes de bois puis il donnait du travail aux personnes dans le besoin.Nous n’avons jamais vécus dans la misère.La maison était toujours pleine de bucherons que ma mère nourrissait. Tout le monde mangeait a leur faim.Jacqueline a garder l’histoire qu’il ont bien voulu lui raconter, ses supposés parents (adoptifs). Il n’ont jamais accepter de remettre la petite fille ,qui n’était pas orpheline.Maintenant Jacqueline sait la vérité elle n’a plus de doute. Jacqueline était la copie conforme de notre mère puis elle avait tout ces talents. Ma mère était comique , pleine d’humour, elle composait ,elle était une première de classe, elle chantait dans les mariages,elle écrivait les lettres des amoureux filles ou garcons , elle ne laissait personne indifférent.Puis notre père était lui aussi toujours souriant,il jouait du violon de la musique a bouche de la bombarde,puis il dansait pas besoin de vous dire qu’ils étaient toujours les invités d’honneur dans les noces etc…Mes parents étaient heureux ils s’aimaient il y a toujours des envieux dans une famille qui brise le bonheur des autres.Et cherche a faire du tort .Je vous remercie sincèrement ,je sais que Jacqueline
    vous aimait tous.Soyez heureux et heureuses .mon Email

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