The Canadian director Norman Jewison, author of an eclectic filmography in Hollywood that includes in particular the films In the heat of the night and Jesus Christ SuperstarHe died this weekend at the age of 97.
The filmmaker “died peacefully on Saturday,” according to a press release from his agent Jeff Sanderson, who indicates that ceremonies in his honor will be held “later in Los Angeles and Toronto.”
After starting out in Canadian television, Jewison established himself during his career as one of Hollywood’s most eclectic filmmakers. His numerous films have notably earned him three Oscar nominations for best director.
political satire for The Russians are coming (1966), heist film with Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), musical comedy with Fiddler on the Roof (1971), his work ventures into very diverse genres.
But in the United States his legacy remains above all that of a filmmaker interested in social issues. Thanks in particular to the mark left by In the heat of the nightwhich won five Academy Awards in 1967, including Best Picture.
Under the guise of a simple detective film, the filmmaker addresses American racial tensions, the founding division of the United States.
Legend Sidney Poitier, Hollywood’s first black star, plays a Philadelphia police officer who finds himself accused of murder in Mississippi, and must lead the investigation with the local white sheriff while facing racism from the residents.
“Films that deal with civil rights and social justice are the ones I appreciate the most,” Norman Jewison said Monday. New York Times.
The Canadian Film Centre, a training institution created by Norman Jewison in 1988, said Monday it was mourning a “visionary” and “national icon” known “for his commitment to social justice.”
Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge praised a filmmaker with “unique” films.
“Either with In the heat of the night, Fiddler on the Roof either Moonlight, “His films will have moved his fans here and in other parts of the world.”
Big names in Hollywood
Sylvester Stallone in FIST (1978), Al Pacino in Justice for all (1979), Denzel Washington in hurricane carter (1999): During his long career, Norman Jewison has directed the biggest names in Hollywood.
He also collaborated with Frenchman Gérard Depardieu, whom he directed alongside Whoopi Goldberg in Fake in 1996.
His films have earned a total of 46 Oscar nominations and won 12 awards. Enough to allow pop singer Cher to win the Oscar for best actress for her romance with Nicolas Cage in Moonlight (1987).
“Thank you for one of the greatest, happiest and most fun experiences of my life,” the singer responded Monday on X. “Without you, I wouldn’t have my beautiful golden man.”
Born in Toronto in 1926, Norman Jewison was raised by Protestant parents who ran a business below their apartment. But because of his name, the young man is harassed at school by his classmates who believe he is Jewish, according to the New York Times.
He expressed an early interest in film and theater and, after earning his first money as a taxi driver, found work with Canadian CBC television in the 1950s.
He spent seven years there before venturing into the world of American television and then film. His first film as a director in Hollywood, Problems galoredates back to 1962.
Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest distinction of his country of origin, the filmmaker leaves behind three children and five grandchildren.