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Roman Kroitor (1926 – 2012)

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IMAX Corporation announced the passing of co-founder Roman Kroitor Sunday at the age of 85. Kroitor, along with Graeme Ferguson, Robert Kerr and Bill Shaw, founded IMAX.

In 1967, as a filmmaker with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Kroitor collaborated on a groundbreaking multi-screen, immersive cinema experience with the film In the Labyrinth for Expo 67 in Montreal. Co-directed by Kroitor with Colin Low and Hugh O’Connor, and co-produced with Tom Daly, the film set the stage for a new era in cinema and the birth of IMAX.

Soon after, Kroitor, along with Ferguson and Kerr, co-founded Multi-Screen Corporation, which eventually became IMAX Corporation. Upon inventing the IMAX film system, the team set about redefining the possibilities of cinema.

“Roman was a true visionary, artist and man whose imagination wasn’t limited by technology. In fact, his creative imagination inspired new technology that changed the way people would experience movies forever, which was the foundation from which IMAX was built,” said IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond. “We all owe a debt of gratitude to Roman and will honor his memory by carrying on his spirit of creativity, inventiveness and his passion for bringing the most immersive and inspiring film experiences to audiences worldwide.”

At Giant Screen Cinema Association’s 2012 International Conference held in Sacramento, Calif., IMAX co-founder Ferguson said, “Roman was both a filmmaker and an inventor. Every film you see today, and most movie theaters you go to today, bear the mark of his genius.”

Born in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, in December 1926, Kroitor was a brilliant editor, director and technical innovator.  He began a long and distinguished career with the NFB of Canada in 1949, where he pioneered several cinematographic innovations that would help redefine documentary filmmaking and inspire a generation of artists. His creative partnerships with Wolf Koenig and Low resulted in some of the NFB’s most acclaimed documentaries of all time, including Glenn Gould – On & Off the Record, Lonely Boy, Stravinsky and Universe. As a producer, Kroitor was involved in the development of fiction films at the NFB, starting with Don Owen’s 1964 feature Nobody Waved Goodbye.

Even after Kroitor’s time at IMAX, he remained heavily involved with the company, developing innovative ways to use the medium. In 1991, he co-directed Rolling Stones: At the Max, the first feature film produced in the IMAX format, and he produced the IMAX 3D film CyberWorld in 2000 and the first IMAX HD film, Momentum.

Most recently, the NFB and Kroitor were again creative partners, as the NFB animation studio, led by animator Munro Ferguson, developed new creative applications for IMAX Corporation’s hand-drawn 3D stereoscopic animation technique, SANDDE.

Kroitor is survived by his wife Janet and children Paul, Tanya, Lesia, Stephanie and Yvanna.

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