TORONTO — John Zaritsky, the Academy Award-winning documentarian, has died at the age of 79.
His family says the Canadian filmmaker died of heart failure on March 30 in Vancouver.
Born in St. Catharines, Ont., Zaritsky had a career that spanned over 40 years and often tackled controversial subjects, including disease, drugs and assisted suicide, while giving a voice to survivors.
He directed such notable and heavy-hitting titles as 2016’s “No Limits: The Thalidomide Saga,” 2010’s “Leave Them Laughing,” and various critically acclaimed episodes of the docuseries “Frontline,” including 1996’s “Murder on ‘Abortion Row.'”
In 1983, Zaritsky won the Oscar for best documentary feature for an episode of “The Fifth Estate” titled “Just Another Missing Kid,” about a missing Ottawa teenager.
He was also a two-time Gemini Award winner, for an episode of 2005’s “College Days, College Nights” and 2008’s “The Suicide Tourist.”
Zaritsky is survived by his wife, Annie Clutton, his stepdaughter Errin and son-in-law Bern, and his grandchildren, Imogen and Reid.
“In his memory he would like you to do two things,” Clutton wrote in a press statement. “Take a friend out for a beer or two, and watch a locally made documentary and allow your life to be changed a little.”
Sadaf Ahsan, The Canadian Press