TIMES COLONIST: Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker celebrates eccentrics

Times Colonist | By Michael D. Reid

Posted February 14, 2015


Photograph By BRUCE STOTESBURY, Times Colonist

The veteran journalist-turned-filmmaker is best known for his award-winning documentaries on sombre subjects such as Just Another Missing Kid, his 1982 Oscar-winner; his controversial 2008 documentary Right to Die?; and Do You Really Want to Know?, his 2012 documentary featuring members of three families who underwent predictive testing to learn whether they inherited the gene that causes Huntingdon’s disease.

Zaritsky insists he likes to “mix it up” with lighthearted fare such as Ski Bums, his 2002 Whistler skiing subculture documentary to offset his heavy-duty films on topics from AIDS in Africa to the war in Bosnia.

“I even have a nickname — Dr. Death — in the documentary community, because usually someone dies in my films,” he said with a laugh. “The joke is: ‘If you see me coming, run!’”

A Different Drummer, which celebrates eccentrics including Laura-Kay Prophet, Vancouver’s charitable “duck lady,” and wacky British inventor John Ward, reveals Zaritsky’s less serious side.

“It’s entertaining, but it also shows how eccentrics live longer and are happier and healthier,” he said. “I hope it encourages people not to have to fall in with the crowd.”

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