Filmmaker Giles Walker dies

The Scottish-born writer, director and producer, who started his career with the NFB in 1974, was known as a key figure in the organization's development of alternative dramas.
April 2, 2020

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Giles Walker has passed away after a 10-year battle with cancer.

Announced by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) earlier this week, Walker died in Toronto on March 23 with his wife veteran film editor Hannele Halm by his side. He was 74.

The Scottish-born writer, director and producer started his career as a documentary filmmaker with the NFB in 1974. He was known as a key figure in the public film and digital media agency’s development of alternative dramas – films that combined dramatic storytelling with non-professional actors and documentary techniques – with a trilogy of films on male-female relationships, such as the feature 90 Days (1985, pictured), according to the organization.

Walker’s credits included directing and co-writing Bravery in the Field (1979), a dramatic short that earned a Best Live Action Short Film nod from the Academy Awards; the feature Princes of Exile (1990), which was co-produced by the NFB and Cinepix – marking his final collaboration with the public agency; Ordinary Magic (1993), a film that saw actor, entrepreneur and producer Ryan Reynolds star in his first film role; and the documentary The Way of Tai Chi (2011).

On the TV front, he worked on projects such as Emily of New Moon, Fries with That, Il duce canadese and René Lévesque.

On Facebook, close friend and former NFB colleague filmmaker Paul Cowan paid tribute to the creative, acknowledging that he had the privilege of seeing him over the course of nine of the last 10 years. “Through it all he fought hard and endured much. But he never changed? When I said goodbye to him as the ambulance waited to transport him to his new Toronto home last year, his embrace was as strong as ever. As his gurney was loaded, I’m sure I saw the excitement on his face that always signalled he was starting a new production. Good on you Giles. Have a fine shoot my friend,” Cowan said.

From Playback Daily’s Lauren MalykImage courtesy of the NFB

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