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Filmmaker Jack Lemmon dead at 70

Lemmon one of three filmmakers responsible for documentary Track Two

Filmmaker Jack Lemmon died Saturday, March 15 at age 70. Credit: Family photo

Filmmaker Jack Lemmon died Saturday, March 15 at age 70. 

Lemmon was one of three filmmakers responsible for the documentary Track Two, one of the most complete records (and thought to be the only moving-picture version) of the February 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids and the resulting riots.

Lemmon, Harry Sutherland and Gordon Keith (Lemmon’s surviving longtime companion) were originally working on a documentary about gay activist George Hislop’s 1980 election run to become Toronto’s first openly gay city alderman. But when Toronto police raided four gay bathhouses on February 5, 1981, the three young filmmakers took to the streets to record the events that night and subsequent riots, and their documentary took a new and quite unexpected direction. 

“If you never met Jack, imagine that if Shakespeare had grown up in his hometown of Sioux Lookout, our Jack would have been the model for his Falstaff,” recounts Sutherland. “A gregarious man, who perhaps loved love a little too much, but a man with a warm heart, a keen sense of justice, a thirst for knowledge and above all, a true friend. There are many of us who loved him, and we will miss him dearly.”

“I first met Jack in the mid-’70s when he walked into my office at the National Film Board and pitched me a documentary film on gay liberation,” Sutherland recalls. “It was an impossible project for the NFB at the time, but I could not help but be impressed with this character, and in a few years I had left the NFB to join forces with Jack and his friend Gord Keith to form a production company. We produced two documentaries on gay rights over the next five years with screenings at the Berlin and Toronto International Film Festivals, as well as sold-out galas at the Bloor Cinema.” 

Read about the making of Track Two and watch the documentary.  

Memorial Gathering
Sun, March 30
2–5pm
Giffen-Mack Funeral Home & Cremation Centre
2570 Danforth Ave, Toronto
Info: 416-698-3121
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