Melvin “Mel” Hoppenheim, renowned Montreal film director, cinematographer, philanthropist and entrepreneur, has died.
“He was a pioneer of the Canadian film industry and a visionary with a remarkable record of accomplishments, including building MELS Studios,” the MELS Studios Facebook page says.
The Film and Television Council of Quebec also named him a pioneer on their Facebook page, stating “he was also a philanthropist who helped develop many of Quebec’s talents, creators and technicians.
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Born in 1937, Hoppenheim grew up in Montreal and died Wednesday surrounded by his family. He has a long history not only in the meat and film industry, but also in philanthropy.
According to his obituary, Hoppenheim was deeply committed to the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation and has served on its board since 1989. He and his wife Rosemary Schirmer were generous sponsors of the institute.
He had several other roles in the community, including being chairman of the United Jewish Appeal (CJA) and board member of the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Born in 1937, Hoppenheim founded Panavision Canada in 1965, supplying cameras and other filming equipment to the television and film industries. Six years later, he opened another establishment in Toronto, and five years later, in Vancouver.
In 1988, he purchased the Expo Theater in Montreal’s Cité du Havre neighborhood near Habitat 67 and built five studios that would become MELS Cité du Cinema, creating what was touted as the largest sound and stage studio in North America.
For 33 years Hoppenheim worked closely with his partner Michel Trudel.
“Mel, you were a very good partner. Thank you for these wonderful years,” Trudel wrote on Facebook.
“You will forever remain in our memory.
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As his business continued to grow, Hoppenheim, the father of eight children, continued to give back.
In 1997, Hoppenheim donated $1 million to Concordia University of Montreal to support the school’s film programs, and the university’s film department was soon renamed the Mel Hoppenheim School of Film.
“A passion for the seventh art and a visionary, Mel Hoppenheim has been a true pioneer of our cinema and the development of its industry here, in particular with the construction of the MELS studios,” said Pierre Carl Pelado, President and CEO. Quebecor Inc., on Twitter on Thursday.
Quebecor’s assets include MELS, which has facilities in Montreal, the South Bank, and Quebec.
Hoppenheim’s film accomplishments have earned him an Academy Award, a Genie Award, and a special American Grand Prix at the Montreal World Film Festival.
Hoppenheim was also awarded the Order of Canada in 2015 for his contribution to the country’s film industry.