Peter Wintonick, Canadian Documentarian, Dies at 60

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Peter Wintonick, co-director of the acclaimed 1992 feature documentary “Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media” and a producer, director, writer and editor on feature dramas, theatrical documentaries, educational films, television programs and Internet sites, died Nov. 18 of cholangiocarcinom, a form of liver cancer, in Montreal. He was 60.

Wintonick was a tireless champion of Canadian cinema.

“Peter is (so hard to say ‘was’) one of the greats of the documentary world. 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. He expressed this in conversation, in his writings, in his globe-trotting mentoring and programming activities, and always with a sharp wit that could take your breath away with the subtlety of the thought and the sheer joy in his manner of expression,” said Tom Perlmutter, government film commissioner and chairman of the National Film Board of Canada.

Wintonick co-directed the NFB/Necessary Illusions 1992 feature documentary “Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media” with Mark Achbar. The film played theatrically in 200 cities around the world, winning over 20 awards.

A proponent of cinema verite, Wintonick worked with the NFB again on the 1999 feature documentary “Cinema Verite: Defining the Moment,: and he was one of 30 leading documentary filmmakers featured in the 2008 NFB film and website “Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary.”

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.

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 c0-directed and co-produced the 1998 documentary “The QuebeCanada Complex.”

He also recently served an executive producer at EyeSteelFilm as a mentor and international producer, working to develop and produce international co-productions.

Wintonick was asked to serve on film juries around the world. He was also one of the founders of DocAgora, an international think tank and open webplex about digital documentary media.

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  1. Jeanne says:

    The stunning thing about Peter is this: he did what he wanted, needed to do; not waiting for the money or sponsors, rather forging ahead and… who knew … maybe the money would follow.

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