NFB pioneer Roman Kroitor passes away

Roman Kroitor (pictured), a filmmaker who played a key role in the National Film Board of Canada during the 1950s and 1960s, has passed away at the age of 86.
September 18, 2012

Roman Kroitor (pictured), a filmmaker who played a key role in the National Film Board of Canada during the 1950s and 1960s, and who also helped develop the IMAX format, passed away Sunday. He was 86.

“Roman Kroitor was a remarkable man who has made out-sized contributions to cinema as a filmmaker, producer and creative and technical innovator. He was a legend whose relentless pace of inventiveness continued throughout a long and productive career. His death is a terrific loss to the NFB, Canada and the world of cinema,” said Tom Perlmutter, the NFB’s chairman, in a statement.

Born on December 12, 1926, in Yorkton, Sask., Kroitor helped develop the idea of direct cinema and also new approaches to documentary filmmaking. His early credits include  Paul Tomkowicz: Street-railway Switchman and the Candid Eye series.

Working alongside colleagues Wolf Koenig and Colin Low, he made Glenn Gould – On & Off the Record, Lonely Boy, Stravinsky and Universe.

As a producer, he helped the NFB move into fiction films, beginning with Don Owen’s 1964 feature Nobody Waved Goodbye.

Working again with Low and Hugh O’Connor and co-producer Tom Daly, Kroitor helped develop In the Labyrinth, an immersive cinema experience that caused a sensation at Montreal’s Expo 67. In 1967, Kroitor left the NFB to co-found Multi-Screen Corp.

Soon he would begin work co-inventing the IMAX film system and forming IMAX Corp. The first IMAX film Tiger Child, was directed by Donald Brittain and released in 1970 in time for the Osaka world’s fair.

In the years to come, Kroitor and IMAX would work closely with the NFB on such projects as the first IMAX 3D film, Transitions, and first IMAX HD film, Momentum. Both were directed for the NFB by Low and Tony Ianzelo.

In the mid-1970s, Kroitor returned to the NFB to head dramatic productions, producing such acclaimed works as Giles Walker’s Bravery in the Field and John N. Smith’s First Winter.

Most recently, Kroitor had partnered with the NFB’s animation studio, led by animator Munro Ferguson. Together they worked on new creative applications for IMAX’s hand-drawn 3D stereoscopic animation technique, SANDDE.

Kroitor is survived by his wife Janet and children Paul, Tanya, Lesia, Stephanie and Yvanna.


(Story from Playback Daily)

About The Author
Senior staff writer Frederick Blichert comes to realscreen with a background as a journalist and freelance film critic. He has previously written for VICE, Paste Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Xtra, Canadian Cinematographer and elsewhere. He holds a Master of Arts in film studies from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from the University of British Columbia.