Winnipeg-bred Secter was a U. of T. theatre major when he made the breakthrough feature for which he is most known, Winter Kept Us Warm, (1965, 81). The first queer Canadian feature film in English is a tale of triangles on campus whose audacious perspicuity and discreet eroticism still make you hold your breath four decades later. (See R of T, Chapter 4.) Big Man On Campus Doug meets frosh Peter in September, Doug realizes something and plays guitar love songs to Peter in his dorm room, Peter meets Sandra, Doug loses Peter, April is the cruelest month. Secter took Winter to Cannes and for once, a few international contemporary critics got it right both on the queer and the Canadian angle.
Secter went on to make another Toronto feature, The Offering (1966, 80), an interesting interracial romance that expresses his sensibility but lacks the previous film’s punch, before relocating first to New York and then to California, where his media career was been intermittent. Joel Secter’s affectionate feature documentary biopic about his uncle (The Best of Secter and the Rest of Secter, 2005, 58) fills in the gaps in the subsequent career of a cinematic and sexual rebel whose artistic promise was not to be fully realized.