John Zaritsky

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John Norman Zaritsky (born 13 July 1943) is a Canadian documentarian filmmaker. He was the recipient of an Academy Award in 1982 for his documentary Just Another Missing Kid, he also won a Cable Ace Award in 1987 for Rapists: Can They be Stopped, a Golden Gavel Award from the American Bar Association for My Husband is Going to Kill Me, a Robert F. Kennedy Foundation Award for "Born in Africa", and a DuPont-Columbia Award in 1994 for Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo.

Born in St. Catharines, Ontario, the son of Yvonne Joan (née White) and Dr. Michael Zaritsky, he graduated from Denis Morris Catholic High School in 1961,[1] and then graduated in 1965 from the Trinity College of the University of Toronto.[2] Prior to entering film, Zaritsky worked as a newspaper reporter for seven years. In 1970, he received a Ford Foundation Fellowship to study at the Washington Journalism Center. In 1972, he won a National Newspaper Award for his investigative reporting at The Globe and Mail newspaper.

His films have won awards at the New York Film Festival, the American Film Festival, Banff Television Festival, Houston International Film Festival, Columbus Ohio Film Festival, and the John Muir Medical Film Festival. Three films, "Broken Promises", "Born in Africa", and "Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo" were nominated for Emmy Awards. In addition, Zaritsky has won six Geminis, Canada's national television award. In 1995-96, he was an artist-in-residence at the graduate school of journalism, University of California at Berkeley.

He also directed and produced the documentary Right to Die?, which documented the assisted suicide of Craig Ewert by the group Dignitas. The film also features a discussion of the case of Betty and George Coumbias, a Canadian couple seeking legal approval for their suicide pact.[3][4]

Right to Die? attracted extraordinary publicity in Britain when it aired in December 2008. According to the Associated Press, "The documentary ... has been shown on Canadian and Swiss TV and at numerous film festivals, where it provoked little controversy. But it struck a raw nerve in Britain, where the divisive debate over assisted suicide remains unresolved."[5]

His most recent project, Do You Really Want To Know? (2012) recounts the stories of three families who carry the gene for Huntington's Disease, a fatal neurodegenerative illness that attacks in mid-life. Members of each featured family have undergone predictive testing to learn whether or not they have inherited the gene that causes the disease, and thus learn whether or not they will die from it.

Do You Really Want To Know? received two Golden Sheaf Awards at the 2012 Yorkton Film Festival:[6] Best Documentary (Science/Medicine/Technology), and Best Director (Non-Fiction); a Chris Award at the 2012 Columbus International Film & Video Festival for Best Documentary in the Science + Technology division,[7] and the Best Documentary award at the 2012 Okanagan International Film Festival,[8] its broadcast premiere took place on November 13, 2012 on Knowledge Network.


  • "Zaritsky, John Norman," in: The Canadian Who's Who, Vol. 32, 1997, p. 1349.


  1. ^ "DENIS MORRIS 1958 ~ 2008 (Anniversary Edition)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-01-31. Retrieved 2008-12-18.
  2. ^ Toronto International film Festival, Profile Archived 2008-05-29 at the Wayback Machine, 2007.
  3. ^ Assisted Suicide for Healthy People?, July 16, 2009
  4. ^ Deaths reignite assisted-suicide debate July 16, 2009
  5. ^ The New Zealand Herald Televised suicide causes uproar in Britain , December 12, 2008
  6. ^ "YFF 2012 GSA Winners". Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  7. ^ "2012 Awards Program" (PDF). Columbus Intl. Film & Video Festival. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 April 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  8. ^ "Off International 2012 Award Winners". Off International. Retrieved 2 January 2013.[permanent dead link]

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