Daily | Peter Wintonick, 1953 – 2013

Peter Wintonick

Peter Wintonick

Peter Wintonick, a renowned Canadian documentary filmmaker with a career that spanned more than 35 years, has died,” reports the Canadian Press. Wintonick, who was 60, “was involved in more than 100 films and transmedia projects, one of the most notable being 1992’s Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, which looked at the life and ideas of the political activist and intellectual.” Co-directed with Mark Achbar, and a winner of over 20 awards, it remains on of the most commercially successful Canadian documentaries ever.

Indiewire‘s Peter Knegt: “Wintonick announced a few weeks ago that he had been diagnosed with Cholangio Carcinoma, a rare form of liver cancer. He was using the diagnosis as motivation for a new film, Be Here Now, at the time of his death. You can donate to help the film get completed by his colleagues at EyeSteelFilm here.”

“Wintonick partnered with Francis Miquet in the Montreal-based independent production company Necessary Illusions Productions, which produced and distributed media on a wide range of social, cultural and political issues, and aides individuals and groups to create and use media for positive social change,” reports Variety. “Wintonick’s work with Necessary Illusions included a 2009 documentary with his daughter, filmmaker Mira Burt-Wintonick, called PilgrIMAGE, a trans-generational cinematic trip through the history of cinema and the future of new media. With Katerina Cizek, Peter co-directed the 2002 documentary Seeing Is Believing: Handicams, Human Rights and the News, in which they traversed the world exploring the front lines of an emerging digital revolution in documentary media. He also co-directed and co-produced the 1998 documentary The QuebeCanada Complex.”

“In Montreal, where the International Documentary Festival continues this week, filmmakers remembered Wintonick as a man devoted to his craft and one constantly pushing the medium forward,” reports the CBC, which then quotes National Film Board chair Tom Perlmutter: “He knew everyone and everyone knew him for his passion, his commitment, his generosity. He created a significant body of work; but his contribution was far greater than the sum of his films. It encompassed a larger view of the documentary as quintessential to the moral well-being of the universe.”

Ray Pride remembers a “great, great friend” with a series of photographs.

Update: “When some friends and I were developing the website that would eventually become Indiewire back in the mid-90s, Wintonick was an early supporter,” writes Eugene Hernandez, who’s now at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. “He hosted an early incarnation of the online community on the Virtual Film Festival website leading up to the 1996 Sundance Film Festival. Over the years he continued to offer encouragement as the site grew. Such support was hardly unique to Indiewire, Wintonick nurtured countless people, projects and initiatives.”

Updates, 11/20: “The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival… has renamed its Audience Award for a foreign feature documentary The Peter Wintonick Award,” reports Indiewire‘s Peter Knegt.

Aaron Cutler met Wintonick in Thessaloniki and again at the Brazilian documentary festival It’s All True. He “was a rich documentary character, surprising with sharp insights dropped during comic stream-of-consciousness monologues after the manner of film essayists like [Alan] Berliner and Ross McElwee. He believed documentary filmmaking to contain a wide variety of possible viable shapes, much like the world that it depicted did. Throughout It’s All True, he spoke about overtly first-person filmmaking, but also found opportunity to speak with me about a new, somewhat different documentary that he loved: Leviathan.”

Update, 11/22: Heather Croall, director of Sheffield Doc/Fest, has a wonderful essay at Indiewire. A close friend of Wintonick’s, she recounts spending his last days with him.

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