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