TORONTO -- In 2000, the animation industry was rocked by the collapse of Cinar Corp., the Canadian cartoon producer behind such popular series as "Arthur", "Calliou" and "The Busy World of Richard Scarry."
Quebec documentarian Francine Pelletier
set out to understand the rise and dramatic fall of Cinar co-founder Micheline Charest
, only to have doors slammed in her face.
"This was the hardest thing I've ever done. I have never got this kind of silent treatment and refusals. Everyone headed for the hills," Pelletier said Friday as her completed documentary, "The Woman Who Lost Herself", began a theatrical release in Quebec.
The documentary takes viewers back to when Charest and husband Ronald Weinberg
were media darlings as the forces behind Montreal-based Cinar during the 1990s. In 1997, The Hollywood Reporter ranked Charest 19th on its list of the 50 most powerful women in the entertainment industry.
But her gilded world fell apart in 2000 when she and Weinberg were found to have put the names of Canadians on scripts written by Americans in order to extract tax credits and other lucrative government subsidies.
Pelletier's attempts to interview officials in the federal bureaucracy in Ottawa that administered the tax credit system, as well as at Telefilm Canada, the federal government's film financier implicated in the Cinar affair, all were unsuccessful.
She alleges a cover-up in the highest reaches of the Canadian TV industry over its corporate ethics in the wake of Cinar.