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‘Man with a vision’: Daniel Langlois, killed in burnt vehicle, remembered in Quebec

Click to play video: 'Tribute for Canadian film entrepreneur, partner killed in the Caribbean'
Tribute for Canadian film entrepreneur, partner killed in the Caribbean
Dozens turned out in Montreal to honour the late film entrepreneur and philanthropist Daniel Langlois and his partner Dominique Marchand who were killed in early December on the small island of Dominica. As Phil Carpenter reports, Langlois was described as a man ahead of his time – Jan 14, 2024

A feeling of loss was evident among those who went to the Excentris Complex in Montreal on Sunday to pay tribute to Quebec film entrepreneur and philanthropist Daniel Langlois and his partner Dominque Marchand.

“This couple was very discreet, very humble, but they did a lot,” Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante told reporters outside the establishment after she paid her tribute.

Both Langlois and Marchard were found lifeless in a burned out vehicle on the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica in early December. Their bodies were discovered near the resort they owned after the pair were reported missing.

The high-profile case quickly garnered international news coverage as their deaths sent shockwaves through both Dominica and Canada. A few days later, two men were charged in their deaths.

Montrealers who knew Langlois say they were horrified by the sudden death of the businessman and noted philanthropist.

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“He would have had so much more to contribute, I’m sure,” said Pierre Jasmin, president of Les Artistes pour la Paix. “He was such an exceptional artist.”

In 1999, Langlois founded Excentris, a state-of-the-art movie house, to support alternative cinema and give a platform to art house films. Fans of the cinema note that the film entrepreneur’s vision was progressive, believing that to be his most lasting legacy.

Excentris cinema faced financial difficulties and has been closed since 2015. The building now houses schools, but people remember the spot as a meeting place for cinema lovers and some, including the Montreal mayor, still have fond memories.

“I used to come here a lot and one of the first dates I had with my husband, and we’ve been together for 26 years now, was here,” Plante said.

Click to play video: 'Canadian entrepreneur Daniel Langlois and partner found dead in Caribbean'
Canadian entrepreneur Daniel Langlois and partner found dead in Caribbean

People who knew Langlois also praised his ability to pair art with technology, evidenced with his launch of Softimage, where 3D animation was developed for many notable movies. The company was later acquired by Microsoft.

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“It started with Jurassic Park, and Lord of the Rings and all these great films,” former Excentris artistic director Denis Laramée said.

Langlois and Marchand were involved in many charities and opened a luxury ecotourism resort in Dominica. The couple was well liked in Dominica, too. A memorial sunset paddle and candlelight vigil were held in their honour just a few days after their deaths.

Langlois also started a foundation in his name to support technology and the arts.

“He was a man [with a] vision and we’re going to miss him for, for a long time,” said Laramée.

Accused expected back in court next March

Two men — Jonathan Lehrer and Robert Thomas Snider — have been arrested and charged with murder in the couple’s deaths.

Dominica’s director of public prosecutions said the two men were arraigned in court on Dec. 6, 2023 but did not enter a plea.

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Court documents show that Lehrer was in a dispute with Langlois dating back several years over the use of a public road that crossed his property and led to the couple’s luxury ecotourism resort, which was under construction at the time.

Lehrer and Snider will remain in jail until their next court appearance in March 2024.

— with files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise and The Canadian Press

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