Jacques Savoie, Acadian musician, author, screenwriter (born 3 February 1951 in Edmundston, NB). Savoie has left his mark on French-Canadian literature, television and film. A founding member of the Acadian musical group Beausoleil Broussard, he is also the author of close to 20 novels, including Raconte-moi Massabielle and Les Portes tournantes, both of which have garnered many international awards and been made into films. In addition to collaborating on screenplays adapted from his novels, Savoie has written the original screenplays for several successful television miniseries, including Bombardier (1992) and Les Lavigueur, la vraie histoire (2008), for both of which he received a Prix Gémeaux for best script for a dramatic series.
Education and Early Career
Jacques Savoie received a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from the Université de Moncton in 1972. He then left for France, where he earned a master’s degree in modern literature at the Université d’Aix-en-Provence.
A Multitalented Artist
After publishing a collection of poetry entitled L’anti-livre in collaboration with Herménégilde Chiasson and Gilles Savoie in 1972, Jacques Savoie turned his hand to music (see Music in Acadia). Inspired by the Acadian folklore tradition, he founded the musical group Beausoleil Broussard together with Claude Fournier, Isabelle Roy and Jean-Gabriel Comeau in 1976. The group achieved real success and won the Prix de la Jeune chanson française in Paris in 1978.
Savoie then made a short detour into the world of cinema. He performed as a musician for the films Truck, directed by Robert Award, in 1975, and Leur crise on la paye pas, directed by Tahani Rached, in 1976. Savoie also directed Pour le plaisir de faire de la poterie au Québec in 1976 and acted in Toutes les photos finissent par se ressembler, by Herménégilde Chiasson, in 1986. In 1979, Savoie published his first novel, Raconte-moi Massabielle. The National Film Board of Canada purchased the film rights to the novel, and Savoie wrote the screenplay adapting it for the big screen. He did the same for his novel Les Portes tournantes (1984), for which he was chosen as a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Awards and which was brought to the screen by Québec director Francis Mankiewicz.
Children’s Author and Screenwriter
For some time, Jacques Savoie has pursued a dual career as an author, writing fiction for children as well as for adults. He has published nearly 20 novels (see Literature in French). His children’s literature is published by the Québec publishing house La courte échelle.
In the mid-1980s, Savoie began writing for television. He scripted the miniseries Bombardier, aired by the Télé-Québec public network in 1992 — the story of the inventor of the snowmobile, Quebecer Joseph-Armand Bombardier. Savoie also wrote the scripts for Les bâtisseurs d’eau and Les orphelins de Duplessis, two miniseries presented by Société Radio-Canadain 1997. Then private broadcaster TVA recruited Savoie to write the miniseries Ces enfants d’ailleurs II (1997–1998) and the series Rue L’Espérance (1999–2001). In 2008, he wrote two more miniseries for CBC: Les Lavigueur, la vraie histoire and René II – Le destin d’un chef, the latter tracing the political career of René Lévesque. Savoie also scripted the docudrama Pour toujours les Canadiens!, directed by Sylvain Archambault and celebrating the 100th anniversary of the famous hockey team in 2009.
Honours and Awards
Since the start of his career, Jacques Savoie has consistently won awards and honours. In 1980, he received the Prix de l’Association francophone internationale in Paris for his novel Raconte-moi Massabielle. For his screenplay adapted from this novel, he won the Grand Prize at the Atlantic Film Festival in 1983. His novel Les Portes tournantes received the Prix France-Acadie in 1985, and the film adapted from this novel took the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention at the Cannes Film Festival in 1988, as well as the Prix Le Permanent for best Québec film of the year at the Montreal World Film Festival. The following year, Les Portes tournantes garnered 10 nominations for Genie Awards and won two.
Savoie also received a Prix Gémeaux for his script for the series Bombardier (1992). In 1995, his children’s novel Toute la beauté du monde was a finalist for a Governor General's Literary Award for Children’s Literature in French. In 1998, the Université de Moncton recognized Savoie’s contribution to the world of letters by awarding him an honorary doctorate. Also in 1998, his miniseries Les orphelins de Duplessis received a FIPA d’Or grand prize at the FIPA international festival of audiovisual programs in Biarritz, France.
A second Prix Gémeaux came Savoie’s way in 2008 for his script for the television series Les Lavigueur, la vraie histoire. This series received many other awards, including the Indie Award for Best Canadian Television series, from the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (2008); the FIPA d’Argent in Biarritz, France (2009); and the Prix de La Rose d’Or in Lucerne, Switzerland (2009). In 2010, his talents as an author of fiction were recognized once again, when his book Cinq secondes received the Prix Saint-Pacôme for crime novels. Cinq secondes was also nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Book in French in 2011, while Savoie’s psychological thriller Une mort honorable was one of the finalists for the Prix des lecteurs Radio-Canada book awards in 2013.
Discography (with Beausoleil Broussard)
Beausoleil Broussard (1977, Le Tamanoir).
Mutinerie (1978, Le Tamanoir).
Le mitan du siècle qui s’en vient (1979, L’Escargot).
Journal de bord, 1976–1980 (2003, GSI Musique).
L’anti-livre, with Herménégilde Chiasson and Gilles Savoie (illustrator) (Les éditions de l’Étoile Magannée, 1972).
Novels for Adults
Raconte-moi Massabielle (Éditions d’Acadie 1979).
Les Portes tournantes (Boréal, 1984).
Le récif du prince (Boréal, 1986).
Une histoire de cœur (Boréal, 1988).
The Cirque bleu trilogy: Le Cirque bleu, Les Ruelles de Caresso and Un train de glace (La courte échelle, 1995–98).
Les soupes célestes (Fides, 2005).
Cinq secondes (Libre Expression, 2010).
Une mort honorable (Libre Expression, 2012).
Le fils emprunté (Libre Expression, 2013).
Un voyou exemplaire (Libre Expression, 2014).
Novels for Children
Toute la beauté du monde (La courte échelle, 1995).
Une ville imaginaire (La courte échelle, 1996).
Les fleurs du capitaine (La courte échelle, 1996).
Les cachotteries de ma sœur (La courte échelle, 1997).
Un chapeau qui tournait autour de la terre (La courte échelle, 1997).
Le plus beau des voyages (La courte échelle, 1997).
La plus populaire du monde (La courte échelle, 1998).
Les Portes tournantes, libretto for the ballet inspired by his novel of the same name, produced by the Atlantic Ballet of Canada (2004).