SIMENON IN AMERICA (2003)

One hour documentary
Length: 52 minutes

 

Director: Guy Simoneau
Research and writing: Guy Simoneau
Directors of photography: Alain Bisson and André Lapointe
Soundman: Daniel Provencher
Editor: Michel Giroux
Original music: Bernard Buisson
Narration: Tony Robinow, Dorothée Berryman and Luis de Cespedes
Production: Vivadoc
Producers: Luc Harvey and Guy Simoneau
Broadcasters: Bravo!,TV5 and Canal D
Distribution: Ciné Fête and Vivadoc
Original languages: English and French

World première at the International Festival of Film on Art (FIFA) in 2003

 

“A beautifully crafted documentary. Fans of detective novels will love Simenon in America, and there’s lots there for other viewers, too.”
Paul Challen, The Gazette

“A gorgeous, entertaining documentary about prolific Belgian mystery writer Georges Simenon’s travels in North America and the impact the decade-long journey had on the rest of his life and career.”
B. Boshra, The Gazette

“A documentary that all Simenon fans will welcome with the greatest of interest.” 
Claude Langlois, Le Journal de Montréal

 “A fascinating documentary on the life and work of the creator of Maigret during his North-American period, from 1945 to 1955.”
Voilà !

 

Georges Simenon (1903 -1989) was one of literature’s most popular and prolific writers. His 200 novels have been read by over 600 million readers around the world. He created the beloved Inspector Maigret and wrote many other “tragedy novels”, as he called them.

In autumn, 1945, finding Europe confining, the Belgium writer set out in search of new horizons. He stopped first in Quebec, at Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson, “where the snow is much gayer than the sunshine of the short summer.” That same autumn, while in New York City for a business meeting, he met Denyse Ouimet, a 25-year-old French-Canadian woman. Simenon fell in love with her, knowing that the course of his life would completely change. Denise became his secretary, then the mother of his children. 

Rare archival footage takes us back to the decade after the War, when Simenon and his family fully adopted the North American lifestyle. He became a favourite of Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin, who lauded his talent and humanism. The film contrasts their way of life with the puritanical American lifestyle of the 1950s, when one of Simenon’s books was banned due to the McCarthy witch-hunts.

We meet people who knew Simenon in Quebec and New England, the founder of the Georges Simenon Research Center in New Jersey, and the youngest child of Simenon and Denise Ouimet, Pierre, who teaches scuba diving in California. He speaks of his father with love and lucidity, setting the record straight on several points.

Simenon in America is a sensitive account that reveals little-known moments of a man whose passion was trying to understand his fellow human beings.