Sunday, 03 July 2022 22:54

Oliver Stone in Quebec City (Part 1)

Written by

Paul Bleau, in this two-part series, recounts Oliver Stone’s recent visit to the Quebec City Film Festival, which included a retrospective of his career at the Le Clap Cinema as well as a special screening of his new documentary JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass. In part one of the series, Paul traces the backstory of the visit, Stone’s arrival, and the itinerary leading up to the panel discussion with Oliver and Jim DiEugenio.

June 2019

This is when I was in receipt of a letter from Oliver Stone saying that he was putting together a documentary, as he termed it, a follow-up story, to his 1991 feature film JFK. One part read as follows:

Rob Wilson, Jim DiEugenio, and I are seeking to put this information together under one roof in a documentary that will be clear to John Doe. We’re focused on examining the evidentiary findings of the ARRB and would like to interview you for the film to discuss the Tampa and Chicago assassination plots.

Lastly, as this project has not yet been announced, please keep all of this confidential.

We hope you’ll be able to be part of this film and we look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

When I got this message I knew it was genuine because the person I write articles for, Jim DiEugenio—the world`s leading JFK assassination expert—knows Mr. Stone and had talked about making such a project.

September 2019, Georgetown: First Meeting

I had been interviewed by Oliver Stone for about one hour about the prior plots to assassinate JFK for his upcoming documentary. I got to meet Jim DiEugenio in person for the first time, as well as producer Rob Wilson and even chatted with Doug Horne—one of the top guns from the ARRB. Heck they even had a make-up person for me.

Then between two sips, almost out of nowhere, Oliver Stone enters and heads to the counter to grab a bite. Opportunity knocks! I approach him.

Paul Bleau: Mr. Stone, I would like to thank you for this opportunity. It has been a great honor for me.

Oliver Stone: Thank you for coming.

PB: When it comes time to promote the documentary, you may want to come to Quebec City. I am certain you will receive a warm welcome from open-minded people.

OS: Hmmm, why not Montreal?

PB: Montreal is beautiful, but wait until you see Quebec City.

OS: It must be beautiful up there during the Autumn.

PB: Gorgeous and it is during the time of the Quebec City Film Festival.

OS: Hmmm.

2019 to 2021: Putting Together a Package

Receiving a Hollywood mogul was really not an expertise of mine. I called Louis Côté who was our recently retired mayor’s right-hand man. Oliver Stone coming to Quebec! Let me set you up with Robert Mercure, who heads our tourism association: Destination Québec. Robert and I spoke and, in very little time, he said: Let’s make it happen.

We were offered some funding and Robert himself recruited the Château Frontenac and its brilliant manager Ken Hall to host our guests. By now, it was Fall 2021.

None of us knew much about handling a cinema-related event, so I called Valerie Bissonnette. She and I go back about 25 years. Valérie founded her own production company in 1998, known today as Groupe Vélocité. She has done much to make Quebec City an international hub for film production. Having seen her incredible efficiency in documentary launches, I knew she had to be part of our team. Now, with some backing, I sent a message to Mr. Stone and his entourage in September 2020, inviting him and Jim to Quebec City.

It was followed by this answer:


I’m not going to be able to do this for you. I’ve been doing far too much interviewing for my book and still have a ways to go with different countries.

It would be almost a year later before I would try again. This time the answer would be positive. Mr. Stone would come here in person on December 16, 2021, shortly after the North American debut of the documentary on Showtime, scheduled for November. What changed? The film had been launched and was very well received at the Cannes Film Festival in August. It was time to sell it in North America, where anything about the assassination has been greeted with crossed arms compared to markets abroad.

Mr. Stone and Jim DiEugenio were to spend three days with us. Then disaster struck: COVID reared its ugly head again and travel costs skyrocketed. We did not have enough funds and could not face the pandemic risks.

Winter 2022: The calm before the storm

The documentary aired on Showtime on November 22, 2021. Everyone I know who saw it became convinced there was a conspiracy. I received kudos for how I explained that there was a template that could be observed in prior attempts to assassinate JFK. This led to a call from Peter Black of the Chronicle Telegraph and this created an appetizer story that took flight locally: how did a Quebecker ever make his way into an Oliver Stone documentary?

I also teased that we were trying to get Oliver Stone to come and visit us in the Spring. Really! That would be incredible for our city.

By February, thanks to Valérie, the Quebec City Film Festival joined the fray as well as private sponsors. After two years of COVID forced hibernation, the Festival was planning a new format: Instead of living solely on a ten-day Festival in the Fall, it would remain visible year-round by inviting industry legends to our City. What better way to kick it off than with Oliver Stone?

By late February, Oliver and Jim agreed to come. Everyone was hard at work getting organized: a galvanizing shot in the arm for our tourism industry that would kick off our summer season with a blast. The coverage was massive and widespread and even included the foreign press. Quebec City’s film industry would be on the map. The venues were filling up quickly. Things were looking up. And then Russia invaded Ukraine.

The Build Up

Oliver Stone is easily one of the top five filmmakers of his era. He and his movies have been winners of numerous Oscars, Golden Globes, and other prestigious awards. He is also a multi-medaled Vietnam War veteran. Among his movies that most influenced me were Platoon, Wall Street, and JFK.

His book Chasing the Light is a must-read for anyone interested in movies or examples of courage and determination. Mr. Stone also is candid about his mistakes. When he interviewed me, I was struck by his genuine interest in what I had to say, his jovial nature, and his professional approach.

Accompanying him would be Jim DiEugenio, my editor, and mentor. He, of course, was the writer of the documentary.

They would be joined by the famous leading JFK assassination interviewer, Len Osanic. Len is the producer of the long running Black Op Radio series, the best JFK radio show there is. It was through Len and Jim that I was in a position to start this adventure. Without them, I would not have been interviewed by Mr. Stone.

On the hosting side of things, Martin Genois put together a dream team of drivers, guides, photographers, aides, PR specialists, pundits, animators, etc. He worked up a perfect itinerary and lined-up mesmerizing venues. I was able to contribute interns, sponsor contacts, and I recruited my daughter and my colleague Nancie Moreau from our college, who wrote a fine book about Nikola Tesla and had the perfect personality to cement new friendships.

The problem we were facing was that because of the Ukraine invasion, and the fact that our VIP guest had interviewed Putin some five years earlier, media interest in Mr. Stone`s visit began shifting from his JFK documentary and his legendary moviemaking to his relationship with Putin. This put the organizers in a tricky situation: How could we roll out the red-carpet for someone who was now being labeled a Putin apologist?

Having spoken to Mr. Stone, he is probably the last man on Earth who would agree with Putin`s tragic, ill-thought decision. He has even said so. None of us were for this. The practice firm I supervise at the college had even developed a Vodka for Peace campaign for a local distiller.

The PR team came up with an effective strategy: Mr. Stone and DiEugenio, after the showing of the documentary, would only field questions about the film. The second event would be a panel discussion focusing on the assassination in general and during the marquis event, a seasoned journalist would talk about Stone’s career, including his controversial interview/ exchanges, as could the press during interviews that were lined up. This way no one could be accused of mindless stargazing.

Behind the scenes, pressure was mounting on one of Quebec’s larger than life journalists, Jean-François Lépine, to take on Mr. Stone aggressively during his interview at Le Diamant. The stage was set for two septuagenarians to lock horns during Mr. Stone’s final evening with us in front of a packed house of 600 people.


Things got off to a rocky start. A few days before our guests arrived, I received an email from Oliver. He wanted to talk. “Please let this not be a last-minute cancellation,” I thought!

The phone rings:

OS: Tell me what will happen when I arrive. Can we get a lift?

Oliver’s secretary was on the line also: Oliver, do not worry, Maxime will pick you up, he’s the guy who drove Paul McCartney around.

OS: Paul McCartney, oh OK. Paul, what kind of clothes should I bring up?

PB: Be certain you have a windbreaker.

OS: What will we do during our first day?

PB: It’s an open day for you to just relax…talk to Maxime and Geneviève (the lead hostess), they can feed you full of ideas…or I can have Nancie meet up with you. In the evening, you can come to my cottage, 40 minutes away in the wilderness, for a BBQ.

OS: That sounds good.

PB: I must tell you, there are bugs this time of year.

OS: Bugs, I must say I hate bugs.

PB: Oliver, I read your book, if you can handle Vietnam, I think you can handle a mosquito.

And so on…

Thinking back…what a lousy quip. Vietnam, to a veteran of that mindless war was nothing to slight. When Oliver Stone comes to our city, show some respect.

On the positive side: Two Montreal dailies interviewed Jim and Oliver before their departures.

June 10-11

Because of COVID related staff shortages at our airports, it took Oliver 12 hours to get here from L.A. instead of 7 or 8. Jim, for reasons out of our control, arrived a day later.

June 11th was when Len and his wife arrived at the airport and I enjoyed a coffee and croissant with them in the old town along the riverside, before dropping them off at the Château.

The six out of towners headed to the cinema after a late supper to see the Top Gun sequel.

June 12

Our guests used this day for touring and discovered the hidden gem that is our Provincial Capital: beauty, history, culture, nature, the Château, the Riverside…all done by a very pleasant and erudite tour guide.

In the meantime, I was interviewed by a curious and knowledgeable radio host. It went very well and I invited him to the panel discussion.

June 13

JFK: Through the Looking Glass

The CLAP Cinema reserved its largest room for the showing of the documentary. Its 260 seats sold out in a matter of days, without even promoting the event. We were not able to secure any added rooms, because of the blockbusters opening that week, otherwise we could have tripled the attendance rather easily.

There was a buzz that evening rarely seen for a movie in our city. The combination of COVID-free leisure and the presence of Oliver Stone was magically palpable. The cameras were rolling and some people were in disbelief that the famous director would address the crowd.

I was accompanied by a lawyer friend of mine, plus family and work companions. Their reactions to the JFK case, as written for the screen by Jim DiEugenio and presented by countless experts, charts, and archive footage left them bewildered and shocked. The documentary’s closing was followed by a standing ovation.

The crowd assimilated devastating facts about broken chains of custody, a Keystone Cops quality autopsy performed by three manipulated pathologists with almost no experience in gunshot wounds, powerful evidence of a front shot, strong witness evidence that cast doubt on Oswald even having been in the sixth-floor sniper’s nest, destruction and manipulation of evidence, Oswald’s intelligence file manipulation, bullying and intimidation of witnesses, proof of altering of photo and autopsy evidence, countless examples of how and why Kennedy had powerful enemies. This was the two-hour version. Imagine what the reactions would be had they seen the four-hour, even more detailed version called JFK: Destiny Betrayed.

One thing that was perhaps difficult for the audience to comprehend was the formidable status of some who we hear talking in the film, both as experts and in archive footage: Warren Commissioner Senator John Cooper; Sen. Richard Schweiker of the Schweiker-Hart subcommittee to the famous Church Committee hearings; the House Select Committee on Assassination’s (HSCA) lead initial counsels Richard Sprague and Robert Tanenbaum; Doug Horne, one of the chief investigators on the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB): all attacking the Warren Commission fairy tale. And these represent a small fraction of most inquiry insiders who sound a lot more like the conspiracy advocates than the Warren Commission acolytes.

At the end of the documentary, audience members were given the chance to ask questions answered by the tandem of Oliver Stone and Jim DiEugenio. Oliver giving the big picture, Jim following up with fine details, sources, and added insights.

At one-point Mr. Stone underscored my participation, which led to applause for a local contributor and my taking a bow. Based on reactions of the crowd, friends of mine, my lawyer companion, it is doubtful that even one person left that evening believing that the assassination of JFK was committed by a lone nut. Two young history students thanked me and looked enthralled by what they had just seen. Even one of my brothers, who has an immediate reflex of dismissing conspiracy theories—which by the way tends to be my own attitude towards the conveyor belt of endless anti-establishment yarns—stated: “There is no way that bullet (the magic bullet) caused all that damage.” Marquis event number one was an unqualified success. In the background however, resistance to Oliver’s presence and an attack on his credibility were building.

June 14

Before this date, I had been interviewed over a dozen times about the event and the assassination. All positive, focused on the good news for our city, tourism, our film industry, and genuine interest about the assassination and the documentary. My interview on this morning at French CBC Radio with a well-respected morning man would be different.

Mr. Bernatchez, a gentleman with a distinguished career, came to shake my hand before I was on air. He had an all-business air about him that foreshadowed what would be his skeptical tone during our 12-minute talk. This was further confirmed when a poker-faced assistant of his asked me if I believed all this stuff involving intelligence in the conspiracy. I responded yes, when I really should have pointed out the complexity of the case.

For example, when he asked what I based my affirmation about there being prior plots on, I answered that the plots I discuss in the documentary were about Chicago and Tampa during the month that preceded Dallas. I explained that there were FBI files (I should have added HSCA) about Tampa and that the Chicago plot was based on Edwin Black’s research as well as Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden’s witnessing of the goings-on. He seemed surprised. When he said that the conspiracy was not acknowledged by the media, I talked about how five government investigations that succeeded the Warren Commission and revelations from these as well as from the investigators/insiders themselves presented a very different account from what is concluded by the obsolete Warren Commission—which is what seems to be the basis on which Lone Nut scenario believers continually turn to.

At one point I answered a question about press complacency on this issue by stating, “You would have to ask the press why they are not pouring through the declassified files.” He said, “Now you are accusing us of cooperating in the conspiracy,” and I replied, “Perhaps it is just a lack of interest.” That is how it ended.

I came out worried that I sounded hesitant, confused, and lacking in credibility. When I listened to myself later, I was OK with how I answered: calmly and factually. If I had to redo it, I certainly would have been better documented, ready with French wording, and I would have tried to understand the nature of the skepticism. Nonetheless, I sent Mr. Bernatchez a friendly email thanking him for his time, congratulating him on his excellent career, and offering to have coffee some time to further discuss this.

Other things were happening that day at a frantic pace: some good, some not so good. In the not so good category, Montreal’s La Presse published an article blasting Stone, calling him an apologist for Putin and a conspiracy theorist with a plea to not go to the Le Diamant finale event. (Too late, it was almost sold out). According to this journalist, Stone was Putin’s friend and vocal chord as well a teller of wild tales. The organizers were pandering to a controversial loose cannon and so on and so forth. The writer had not seen the documentary: a common denominator of many of the critics.

On Montreal’s CBC morning show Jean François Lépine was interviewed by the CBC’s Patrick Lagacé and Catherine Beauchamp (click here for audio). Mr. Lagacé, referred to the blistering La Presse article about Stone calling him an apologist and a conspiracy theorist whose movie JFK was revisionist, full of a mish mash of baseless claims. What happened after the intro left me positively dumfounded: Mr. Lépine retorted that Oliver Stone was a great film-maker whose story about Kennedy was so misunderstood. It constituted the chronicling of D.A. Jim Garrison, who despite his defeat was later vindicated when it was confirmed that Clay Shaw, the defendant, was in fact CIA attached. He added that other government inquiries proved that Garrison was spied upon and that there was a plot (more than one shooter). The film JFK was responsible for the creation of the ARRB and the declassification of hundreds of thousands of document, many vindicated Garrison and proved there was a conspiracy. He said that the Warren Commission was discredited and defended researchers like myself and Jim DiEugenio.

As a prelude, he did express strong disagreement with Mr. Stone’s “pandering” to dictators.

Mr. Lagacé seemed somewhat taken aback. He too had not seen JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass. He asked Mrs. Beauchamp, who had seen the film, what she thought. Among other positive comments, she said how she enjoyed the way they linked Oswald to intelligence, how the CIA had files on him despite claiming to the Warren Commission that he was not on the radar and that he was removed from a watch list just a few weeks before the assassination. She also described how the documentary discredited the single bullet theory and revealed destruction of documents. This to me was historical! A Quebec media Golden Boy saying that there was a conspiracy re-enforced by a CBC journalist on mainstream media. I wish I had been aware of this before my interview with Mr. Bernatchez.

In the meantime, some media began challenging the organizers on why they had invited Oliver Stone given his relationship with Putin.

see Part 2

Last modified on Sunday, 10 July 2022 22:27
Paul Bleau

Paul Bleau holds an MBA from McGill University; he owned and ran a leading marketing communications agency for 25 years, and supervised Canada’s first "denormalization" campaign of the tobacco industry.  Since 2006, he has been professor at St. Lawrence College. His break-through study of how history textbooks cover the JFK assassination and how their authors defend themselves, along with a series of follow-up pieces, are published on this site. He has also been a guest on BlackOp Radio.

Find Us On ...


Please publish modules in offcanvas position.