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> John Zaritsky
-- Filmography








Director/Executive Producer

Director – College Days College Nights is a six-hour series following the lives of fifteen university students through one year of school, as they search for knowledge, love, sex, and a path to the future. Produced for The Documentary Channel and CBC Television for release in 2005.

Director – Men Don’t Cry: Prostate Cancer Stories profiles three men diagnosed with prostate cancer, and follows their journey through treatment. A growing epidemic, prostate cancer is a disease that can make men incontinent and impotent, and is killing greater numbers every year. One of the film’s subjects is Bob Hunter, a co-founder of Greenpeace, whose cancer was diagnosed too late to be treated effectively. Men Don’t Cry was broadcast on CBC Television’s Witness series in the summer of 2003. Length 47 minutes.

Director – No Kidding: The Search for the World’s Funniest Joke follows British psychologist Dr. Richard Wiseman’s year-long scientific search to find the world’s funniest joke. Wiseman created an internet website that collected data on how different sexes, nationalities, and age groups react to humour. John Zaritsky took the joke doctor on a round-the-world field trip to test his results, and found wacky characters everywhere with jokes to tell – some good, some awful, all entertaining. No Kidding was broadcast on CBC Television’s Witness series in the summer of 2003. Length 50 minutes.

Director – Ski Bums is an off beat and entertaining look at a youth subculture filled with colorful characters like Johnny Thrash, Punchy, and Stray Doggy who provide an audience with some inside tips on how to survive on very little in a jet set destination like Whistler B.C. The film explores the backgrounds of ski bums and the reasons they sacrifice everything in the pursuit of danger and adventures in the mountains. Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2002. Length 78 minutes.

Director – Extraordinary People is a sequel to “Broken Promises”, which ten years ago profiled some young Canadian thalidomide victims. In Extraordinary People, four thalidomiders go through the normal ups and downs of a transition from young adulthood into middle-aged citizens, but in this case they also cope everyday with some severe physical handicaps. Released on October 14 of 1999 by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Length: 86 minutes.

Director – Little Criminals focused on a six-year-old California boy who almost beat a 2-month-old boy to death with a stick. The boy was the center of a controversy about whether he should be tried as an adult criminal. As an intellectual backdrop, the film also examined a 25-year-old case in which two brothers, seven and 10, kidnapped a two-year-old boy from a San Francisco park and then beat him to death before hanging their victim on a cross. One of the brothers is interviewed about his role in the crucifix murder. Little Criminals was broadcast in May, 1997 over PBS’s Frontline. Length: 53 minutes.

Director – Murder on Abortion Row—When two Catholic youngsters met over a reception counter at a women’s health clinic near Boston, it set off an explosion of violence that would leave two dead and seven injured. The film traces the lives of those youngsters leading up to that moment, one, a beautiful receptionist, daughter of an ex-nun and brother, the other, her killer, an ex-altar boy and nephew of Catholic priests. In an exclusive interview, the Cardinal of Boston explains why he decided to take an unprecedented step in the wake of the killings. First broadcast on PBS’s Frontline series in February, 1996. Length: 108 minutes.

Director – Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo—During the siege of Sarajevo, a young couple was shot down by snipers on a bridge while trying to escape the city. He was a Serb, she a Muslim, and their death attracted the attention of the world press as a tragic symbol of the Bosnian War. The film tells the love story of the couple, as they and their families stay together in the midst of a war that bitterly divides neighbours and close friends. First broadcast in PBS’s Frontline series in May, 1994. Length: 85 minutes.

Director – Choosing Death was an examination of euthanasia as performed by doctors in Holland. The film takes an audience down, what critics view as the slippery slope of euthanasia, starting with the most prevalent cases, terminally ill cancer and AIDS patients before looking at a request from an AIDS patient in the early stages of his disease, to a brilliant psychiatrist losing his mind to the husband of a comatose patient and finally to the parents of a severely deformed baby. First broadcast on PBS, as a Health Quarterly Frontline special in May, 1993. Length: 85 minutes.

Director – My Doctor, My Lover, focused on a Denver woman who was sexually abused by her psychiatrist. Although the doctor admitted being intimate with his patient, his attorney claimed that the patient's psychiatric condition, including post-traumatic stress disorder, resulted from the treatment she received from a subsequent psychiatrist, who happened to be a feminist and herself a victim of sexual abuse by a therapist. How the system from the courts to the state licensing body to the American Psychiatric Association dealt with this controversial case surprised and shocked many people. First broadcast in November, 1991 on PBS’s Frontline series. Length: 85 minutes.

Director – Born in Africa chronicled the last weeks in the life of Philly Lutaaya, a charismatic Ugandan musician dying of AIDS. Lutaaya used his last days to tour his country to alert his people about the dangers of AIDS and to sing a song of hope and redemption he had composed. In doing so, Lutaaya became the first prominent African to publicly declare he had AIDS and his life and death was a powerful message to millions of sufferers on his continent. First broadcast as a Health Quarterly—Frontline Special in May, 1990. Length: 85 minutes.

Director – Broken Promises—In the early 60s, thousands of babies were born around the world with severe birth defects such as shortened and deformed limbs. Their defects were caused by thalidomide, a drug their mothers had been prescribed during pregnancy for morning sickness. Most doctors predicted that few babies would survive and those that did would require institutional care for life. But this film profiled three extraordinary thalidomiders who had defeated the odds and were living full and independent lives in their mid-twenties. Broken Promises also investigates the failure of the Canadian government to live up to a commitment made 25 years ago to do everything it could to help the thalidomide victims and their families. First broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in February, 1989. Also broadcast on PBS’s Frontline and on the BBC series, Everyman. Length: 85 minutes.

Director – My Husband is Going to Kill Me is what a terrified Denver woman told police and judges her violent spouse would do. But even though he kidnapped and held her hostage at gunpoint for six hours, he was set loose and a week later shot her down in front of their two young children. How the system failed to protect a woman from a man who previously had shot a neighbour to death during a front porch confrontation was the focus of this film. First broadcast on PBS’s Frontline in May, 1988. Length: 53 minutes.

Director – The Real Stuff is an entertaining and thrilling look at Canada’s aerobatic flying team, the Snowbirds. Featuring breathtaking photography and the music of David Foster, the daredevil pilots reveal what the real stuff is all about. First broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in May, 1987. Length: 53 minutes.

Director – Rapists: Can They Be Stopped? Looked at controversial treatment program for sex offenders at Oregon State Hospital. Four rapists talk about their lives and crimes while undergoing treatment that includes electroshock, chemical castration and confrontations with victims. First broadcast on HBO’s Undercover America series in June, 1986. Length: 57 minutes.

Director – Tears Are Not Enough chronicles the day top Canadian musical stars came together to record a song for Ethiopian famine victims. Featuring Neil Young, Bryan Adams, Joni Mitchell, Anne Murray, and Cory Hart, the film was a behind-the-scenes at a recording session in which even the biggest stars left their egos at the studio door. The film was released theatrically in Canada and Los Angeles and first broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in December, 1985. Length: 85 minutes.

Director – I’ll Get There Somehow profiles people with different forms of arthritis and lupus, from a young girl with juvenile arthritis to an old lady coping with the devastating effects of osteoarthritis. First broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in February, 1985. Length: 85 minutes.

Director – The Boy Next Door was the only fictional film produced by John Zaritsky. It was a drama about a single mother trying to cope with an absent, sometimes violent teenage son. First broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s For the Record series in May, 1985. Length: 55 minutes.

Director – Bjorn Borg chronicled the last days of a young tennis champion suffering from burnout and attempting a comeback. First broadcast on Global Television in August, 1983. Length: 60 minutes.

Director – Just Another Missing Kid told the story of a rich and powerful Ottawa family trying to find their teenage son who had gone missing while on his way to summer school. But everywhere they went, police refused to help and finally a private detective was hired to track down the two killers of the teenage boy. First broadcast on the CBC’s Fifth Estate in April, 1981. Length: 85 minutes.

Director – Caring for Chrysler examines the controversy about whether governments on both sides of the border should be asked to save America’s third largest automaker from bankruptcy. First broadcast on CBC’s Fifth Estate in December, 1979. Length: 55 minutes.

Director – Charity Begins at Home was an investigative report into foreign aid which demonstrated that the chief beneficiaries were not the Third World poor but inefficient, uncompetitive industries at home. First broadcast on CBC’s Fifth Estate in May, 1978. Length: 54 minutes.

Director – The Loser’s Game was an investigative report into phony promotions and shady practices on the Vancouver Stock Exchange. Regarded by many as the Wild West, its penny stocks are the least regulated of any exchange in North America. First broadcast on CBC’s Fifth Estate in May, 1977. Length: 52 minutes.


Director – John Zaritsky worked for five seasons for Canada’s leading television magazine show, The Fifth Estate. During that time, he produced over 30 short films, including the following:

Director – “I Did Not Kill Bob Neville”—A reexamination of a controversial murder case in which a law professor was convicted of killing his former partner.

Director – “Steel City Star”—A profile of Frank Augustyn, then Canada’s leading male ballet dancer.

Director – “The Making of a Martyr”—An investigation into how the American Indian movement used the suicide of a troubled youth for their own political purposes.

Director – “Betsy’s Last Chance”—The heroic attempt by skier Betsy Clifford to recover from severe injuries and personal tragedies to win Olympic gold.

Director – “The 17 Million Dollar Man”—An investigative report into how a shady Australian businessman bilked taxpayers out of 17 million dollars on a phony pulp and paper mill scheme.

Director – “No Hangovers, No Regrets”—A Remembrance Day profile of Canada’s greatest war hero, Tommy Prince, an elderly Indian living on skid row in Winnipeg.

Director – “Not in My Backyard”—Everybody agrees an old prison should be torn down but nobody wants the new maximum security prison built in their backyard.

Director – ”The Nantucket Mystery”—A real case in which a top scientist on the eve of releasing a major international scientific discovery vanishes one night from her island retreat and nobody, including the police, know why.

Director – “Gord S.”—A profile of one of Canada’s leading sculptors, Gordon Smith whose life and career was almost ended by alcoholism.

Director – “Red Tape”—An investigative report into how government kept heating a deserted but luxurious air force base while Indians were forced to survive a bleak winter in dilapidated shacks.

Director – “Charlie’s Friends”—A profile of a Canadian biker, Danny De Carlo, who taught Charlie Manson everything he knew about guns. Danny and his wife, Simi Valley Sheri, recall their days with Manson on the Spahn Ranch.




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