Roger Racine (1924-)

Roger Racine was undoubtedly the most important cinematographer in Quebec during the period 1930-52. Born in Ottawa in 1924, he applied for a job with the National Film Board in December 1942. John Grierson watched his 8mm films and hired him. At the NFB he shot some thirty films as director of photography from 1943 until his departure in 1948.

Thereupon, Racine became an important figure in Quebec cinema during the years 1948-52, working as director of photography on several feature films. He was the first French Canadian to work in this capacity, on the film Le curé du village. On La petite Aurore, l’enfant martyre, he chose not to accentuate the cruelty of the step-mother by using overly contrasting lighting. Another film on which he created sophisticated lighting was Les lumières de ma ville. In 1950, he shot the urban suspense film Forbidden Journey for R.J. Jarvis (a friend from his NFB days). He then took up directing and did the cinematography for a film that was unfortunately never released, The Butler’s Night Off (1951), for which he was the first to hire a young Montreal actor named William Shatner, the future Captain Kirk of the television series Star Trek.

In 1952, Racine became a television director at Radio-Canada, where he remained until 1964. He then founded the production company Cinéfilm, where he still works with his son and grandson.