22nd September 2011

NFB Marks Death of Documentary Pioneer Tom Daly

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Tom DalyOne of the pioneers of Canadian cinema and documentary filmmaking, legendary National Film Board of Canada (NFB) producer Tom Daly, who passed away at the Chateau Westmount in Montreal on September 18th. Mr. Daly, who was surrounded by family, died peacefully at the age of 93 after a lengthy illness. He retired in 1984 with a legacy of more than 300 films, produced during 44 years of dedicated service. The NFB’s blog features a tribute to Tom Daly, where users can watch some of his films and add their own comments and recollections.

Daly was born in Toronto on April 25, 1918, and joined the NFB in 1940 as a production assistant directly out of University of Toronto in order to contribute to Canada’s war effort. Widely acknowledged as the most important figure ever to work in the English-language branch of the NFB, Daly was a brilliant editor and producer, capable of inspiring his colleagues’ best work.

He learned the art of film editing from two of the greatest documentary filmmakers to emerge from Great Britain, Stuart Legg and John Grierson, and went on to mentor a host of filmmakers, including Roman Kroitor, one of the inventors of IMAX, and Wolf Koenig, arguably one of the best cameraman in the NFB’s history. Daly established the stock shot library, essential for The World in Action series, and during the war edited several of the Canada Carries On and The World in Action films. He produced his first film in 1945 and rose to become executive producer of Unit B in 1951.

Under his leadership, Unit B became the NFB’s most honoured creative arm and was home to some of Canada’s most brilliant and accomplished filmmakers, notably Wolf Koenig, Colin Low, Roman Kroitor, Gerald Potterton, Don Owen, Robert Verrall, Norman McLaren and Arthur Lipsett, whose award-winning films of the 1950s and 1960s brought international recognition for their innovative approaches to documentary and animation.

Daly was the executive producer of the celebrated cinéma-vérité series Candid Eye, made between 1958 and 1961, and was the editing genius behind the groundbreaking multi-screen experience In the Labyrinth at Expo 67.

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