John Zaritsky, steadfast Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker, dies at 78


John Morgan Zaritsky was born on July 13, 1943 in St. Catharines, Ontario, not far from Niagara Falls. Her father, Michael Zaritsky, was a doctor and her mother, Yvonne Joan (White) Zaritsky, was a nurse.

After studying literature at Trinity College at the University of Toronto, he became a detective reporter for The Hamilton Spectator, then quickly rose through the ranks of Ontario dailies. He was an award-winning investigative reporter for The Globe and Mail when, in 1973, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation hired him as a producer for “The Fifth Estate,” which debuted in 1975.

The success of “Just Another Missing Kid” was such that he and his first wife, Virginia Storring, producer of “The Fifth Estate”, could afford to leave the show and start their own production company. They then made eight documentaries for “Frontline”.

His marriage to Mrs Storring ended in divorce. He married Ms Clutton in 2012. He is survived by a daughter, Errin Lally, and two grandchildren.

Mr. Zaritsky is widely traveled, living wherever his subject takes him. He spent two seasons in Whistler, a ski resort in British Columbia, hitting the slopes with guys named Johnny Thrash, Stray Doggy and Punchy, to make “Ski Bums” (2002).

He eventually settled in Vancouver, where he taught documentary studies at the University of British Columbia.

In a statement, his family said their last wish was to encourage people to “take a friend out for a beer or two”, watch a locally produced documentary “and allow your life to change a little”.


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