A Few Words for Peter

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I MET PETER WINTONICK IN 1984 at the Grierson Film Seminar in Brockville, Ont. Peter had been invited to show his film The New Cinema, about a number of well-known artists. I did not like the film at all, and let him have it without holding back from the audience—Grierson was partly about the sport of attacking the filmmakers. After the showing ended we immediately became friends.

Peter and I never worked together on his films or mine. We just liked to hang out, do things together, talk about docs and discuss my newest rant about how the creative moving arts are at the bottom tier of a broken, stupid industrial model. We saw each other in a vast landscape: walking around in Montreal or Halifax; dancing in Toronto; voyaging to PEI to see Anne of Green Gables for Peter’s first time; visiting us in the late 1980s on hot summer days in Cape Breton with Christine and Mira, who got to play with my son Geoff—they were both born in 1984.

Peter morphed within the doc and film world so many times, I must admit that there were occasions when I could barely understand what he was doing. He was cutting an edge most of us had never touched—and he was doing it globally. Before I travel I still think about whether I want to go somewhere. Peter was just on the move; it was all one small beautiful world to him.

He was a wonderful guy, extremely generous, and fun to be with in an arena of continuous learning. Peter was always willing to make the circle larger, to bring you into whatever was going on, wherever and whenever it was happening. When we were in a coffee shop in Toronto years ago, the woman at the next table stopped reading and just sat and listened and watched us bantering on an array of moving subjects. Peter told her to join us, and she and I are still friends today. His joie de vivre was immense, his aura like a Buddha boy. We will all miss him for what he said…and did.

I hope that in remembering his energy, it will push you, as it does me, to do the best we can in our work and play.

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