Canadian film pioneer Roman Kroitor, who co-invented the IMAX film system and inspired directors from George Lucas to Stanley Kubrick, has died. Yorkton, Saskatchewan-born Kroitor died on Sunday at the age of 85, according to the National Film Board of Canada. He worked for the NFB during the 1950s, '60s and mid-'70s.
"Roman Kroitor was a remarkable man who has made out-sized contributions to cinema as a filmmaker, producer and creative and technical innovator," NFB chair Tom Perlmutter said in a statement. "He was a legend whose relentless pace of inventiveness continued throughout a long and productive career. His death is a terrific loss to the NFB, Canada and the world of cinema."
After studying philosophy and psychology at the University of Manitoba, Kroitor became interested in cinema and joined the NFB, where he would eventually rise from production assistant to editor to filmmaker and technological innovator. He made his directorial debut with the film Rescue Party. During the mid to late 1950s, he created the film Paul Tomkowicz: Street-railway Switchman and worked on titles in the Candid Eye series. In other notable NFB projects, Kroitor partnered with fellow filmmakers Wolf Koenig and Colin Low to create Universe, which earned kudos from Stanley Kubrick, who translated techniques from the film into his own 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In 1967, Kroitor left the NFB to co-found the Multi-screen Corp., which later became IMAX Corp. Over the years, he produced or directed a host of films using the technology, including the inaugural IMAX film Tiger Child, the first feature-length IMAX film Rolling Stones: At the Max and 2000's IMAX 3D title CyberWorld.
Kroitor also teamed up with the NFB to develop IMAX Corp.'s SANDDE, a system that allows artists to create hand-drawn, 3D stereoscopic animations.
Aside from Kubrick, a wide range of filmmakers have been inspired by Kroitor's work. Star Wars creator Lucas attributed his space epic's key thematic concept of The Force to a statement Kroitor made during a recorded conversation with artificial intelligence pioneer Warren S. McCulloch.
Kroitor is survived by his wife, Janet, and their five children: Paul, Tanya, Lesia, Stephanie and Yvanna.
Source: National Film Board of Canada