Canadian documentarian Peter Wintonick passed away this morning. The director of such features as Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky in the Media (with Mark Achbar) and Cinema Verite: Defining the Moment was just recently diagnosed as having a rare form of liver cancer called Cholangio Carcinoma, and he was making a new doc in response to that news titled Be Here Now. According to Indiewire, the film will go on with help from his colleagues and continued support from donations.
Outside of making his own films, Wintonick was a huge influence on many in the doc community, as a teacher, mentor, programmer and consultant. He began as an editor, working on Ron Mann’s Poetry in Motion and Peter Watkins’ Resan, and later got together with EyeSteelFilm as an editorial advisor for Lixin Fan’s Last Train Home. He also, with Lixin, produced Yung Chang’s China Heavyweight through the company. In 2006, he received the prestigious Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.
You can read Wintonick’s manifesto and credo, something he believed all documentary filmmakers should have of their own, via Point of View Magazine. In this piece, published earlier this year, he claimed that “time and memory are the only subjects of every film” and offered six notes on how to be a documentarian and additional steps to making a documentary film. It’s a must read for those in the field and interesting for those of us who are fans of the form.
Wintonick is one of a number of documentary filmmakers who appear in the doc Capturing Reality, and you can watch a clip of him talking about verite/Direct Cinema here. And another clip of him talking about how the first documentary was in fact a fiction here.
Watch Manufacturing Consent on Amazon Instant Video (free for Prime members).
Watch China Heavyweight on Netflix.