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Filmmaker and Writer
Born in Ottawa, Ontario on May 14, 1957
Died in Toronto, Ontario on October 19, 2006
Lindalee Tracey was born in 1957 in Ottawa to a mother of French-Canadian and British background and an Irish-Canadian father. The latter left his family soon after and Lindalee and her brother were raised by their mother. A childhood bout with rheumatic fever confined Lindalee to bed for some considerable time and seems to have sharpened her powers of observation, a useful trait for a future filmmaker.
After leaving school, Lindalee Tracey started work in 1973 as an underage stripper, first in her hometown and then later in Montréal nightclubs. Using the stage name Fonda Peters, her shows often included banter with the audience and a playful element in her performance. She regards the mid-1970s as "the last good time to be a stripper" when she toured clubs in eastern North America. She organized the "Tits for Tots" show among Montréal strip clubs as a fundraiser for the local children's hospital. Publicity from the event gained her work as a media commentator and journalist. At the same time, she worked on her creative writing, including poetry.
Toward the end of her career as a stripper, she was one of the workers filmed and interviewed for Bonnie Sherr Klein's National Film Board (NFB) documentary, Not A Love Story: A Film About Pornography. Her articulate commentary and strong sense of self were quite evident in that film. Despite Tracey's disappointment with the filmmakers' portrayal of her and other sex workers, she helped promote the production, feeling that doing so would give her a platform from which she could voice her objections.
Starting with Montréal radio programs, she soon branched out into national productions in radio, television and also into print, including scriptwriting for the NFB. Whatever format she works in, she enjoys the initial process of researching her topic. Her articles have appeared in publications such as Canadian Living and Toronto Life. At the latter, she was also a contributing editor and her article on illegal immigrants won the 1991 Best National Investigative Report award from the Canadian Association of Journalists.
A common theme runs throughout Tracey's work, whether print or film. It depicts the lives of marginal people, those often disenfranchised by life's circumstances — the poor, migrant workers and night shift employees. She explores what she terms 'social geography.' Her compassion for her subjects allows her access to these people who so often have to distrust others. Her first book, On The Edge: A Journey into the Heart of Canada (1993), was nominated for the Gordon Montador Award for non-fiction. Tracey spent seven months travelling across Canada interviewing poor people and letting them speak for themselves, showing the reader that being poor is not a crime.
Tracey married fellow filmmaker Peter Raymont in 1989 and together with Maria Pimental, they formed the independent film and television production company, White Pine Pictures. Specializing in documentaries and docu-dramas, the company has focussed on topics such as immigration, as seen in the Scattering of Seeds series and in Invisible Nation, as well as political movements and journalism, as shown in The World Stopped Watching (2003).
Lindalee Tracey is unafraid to explore the personal in her films. Not for her the dispassionate, unbiased type of documentary. Prompted by her young son's questions about her own father, she made the searing Abby, I Hardly Knew Ya (1995), a film that tries to document the life of the man who abandoned his young family and became a street person. While sympathetic to those who are homeless, Tracey's rage against her father is abundantly clear to the viewer. The production was nominated for a Genie award for best short documentary and a Gemini award and won the bronze plaque at the Columbus International Film and Video Festival.
Tracey was the director and writer of the 1997 film, Invisible Nation, which looked at the work of Canadian immigration officers and the people they police. It was nominated for a Genie award for best directing. Tracey was the co-producer and story editor of the 52-part series, A Scattering of Seeds, filmed over the period 1997 through 2001, which examined immigration from an historical perspective. She also wrote the 1999 book of the same name, based on the series. She was also writer or narrator for many of the individual films in the Scattering of Seeds series, even appearing in costume in An English Sense of Justice (1999).
In 2003, Ms. Tracey founded Magnolia Movies, a production company affiliated with White Pine Pictures that focuses on somewhat lighter hearted topics than those addressed by White Pine. Whether their topics are serious or whimsical, one can count on Lindalee Tracey's films to be thoroughly researched and full of feeling.
Canadian Who's Who, Vol. XXXVIII (2003). Edited by Elizabeth Lumley. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003, p. 1357.
Dunn, Lisa, and Stephanie Caley. "Story of Illegal Immigrants Will Haunt Author for Years." The Eye Opener / L'enquêteur. 1992, p. 6.
Feindel, Jane. "Naked Came the Feminist." Globe and Mail. (November 15, 1997), p. D18, and D12.
Jackson, Marni. "The Sound of Many Knees Jerking." Maclean's. Vol. 94, no. 39 (1981), p. 62-63.
Klein, Bonnie Sherr. "No Love Story." Globe and Mail. (November 22, 1997), p. D18.
Martin, Sandra. "Lindalee Tracey, Filmmaker and Writer 1957-2006." Globe and Mail. (October 20, 2006), p. R3.
Tracey, Lindalee. Growing Up Naked: My Years in Bump-and-Grind. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997.
Tracey, Lindalee. On the Edge: A Journey into the Heart of Canada. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1993.
Tracey, Lindalee. A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada. Toronto: McArthur, 1999.
Tracey, Lindalee. "The Uncounted Canadians." Toronto Life. Vol. 25, no. 18 (1991), p. 35-39, 138-149.