Paul Almond (pictured), the Canadian director behind the influential 1964 documentary Seven Up!, died last Thursday (April 9) in California. He was 83.
His son Matthew told the New York Times the cause was complications from a recent heart attack.
Seven Up! profiled a group of 14 British children from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and inspired the Up series, which followed the children into adulthood at seven-year intervals.
Almond conceptualized the format with Granada Television’s Tim Hewat as an exploration of England’s class system. He appears in the film asking the 10 boys and four girls questions about their families, class, religion and life aspirations.
Originally intended as a one-off documentary, the 40-minute, black-and-white film grew into a long-running series directed by Michael Apted, a researcher who helped cast Seven Up! The eighth and most recent installment, 56 Up, featured all but one of the original people and premiered in 2012.
Almond later return to his native Canada where he directed several TV programs and feature films, including three films starring his then-wife Geneviève Bujold. He also worked as a novelist, and in 2001 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.
“The recognition that our cinema currently enjoys was built on decades of talent, commitment and passion. It’s important to remember this as we mourn the death of director, writer and producer Paul Almond,” Telefilm Canada executive director Carolle Brabant said in a statement. “Recently, in February, we had the pleasure of welcoming Paul to Canada Stars in Awards Season, an annual event held in Los Angeles to celebrate homegrown talent on the international scene. His name will not be forgotten. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.”