The John Grierson International Gold Medal Award Winners

2011
Graeme Ferguson & Roman Kroitor
, founders of IMAX, for their innovation, foresight and contributions to the art of documentary film making.  Their pioneering work in conceiving and exploring the IMAX medium has provided generations of documentary film-makers with the means, technology and vision to pursue their craft.

Graeme FergusonGraeme Ferguson first became interested in pushing the limits of traditional cinema when Expo 67 invited him to make the multiscreen film for its Man and the Polar Regions pavilion.  The success of “expanded cinema” in Montreal led Ferguson and his brother-in-law Roman Kroitor to conceive the IMAX medium, and they were then joined by Ferguson’s high school friend Robert Kerr in founding IMAX Corporation. The trio knew that no existing film transport could handle the 15perf 70mm frame, but fortuitously Jean-Philippe Carson drew their attention to a SMPTE article announcing Ron Jones’ invention of the Rolling Loop, which provided the perfect solution.  Another high school classmate, engineer William Shaw, joined the team to design the system.  Although financiers were initially skeptical, from the beginning the invention received strong support from the industry’s technical community.

Ferguson served as the company’s president for the first two decades, and concurrently participated in exploring the creative possibilities of the new medium.  His film North of Superior was the first to be shot wholly with an IMAX camera.  He then made The Dream is Alive, the first IMAX film to be shot in space, and followed it with Blue Planet and Destiny in Space.   He also produced the first IMAX 3D underwater film, Into the Deep, directed by Howard Hall.  Ferguson eventually turned his film unit over to longtime colleague Toni Myers, but he continued to assist her, notably on the first IMAX space films to be shot in 3D: Space Station and Hubble 3D.

Roman Kroitor
Roman Kroitor, a co-founder of Imax Corporation, began his career at the National Film Board of Canada, winning awards for his films Above the Horizon, Lonely Boy and Universe.  Kroitor has produced or co-produced several of the films in the IMAX® Library, including Tiger Child, Imax's first film, which premiered at the Fuji Group pavilion at Osaka's EXPO '70. Kroitor also made Skyward, one of the hits of EXPO '85 in Tsukuba, Japan; We Are Born of Stars, the first OMNIMAX® film produced in 3D, sponsored by Fujitsu Limited; and Heart Land, the first IMAX film to use digitally-recorded sound.  Mr. Kroitor has devoted his last few years to exploring innovative new ways to use the IMAX medium, expanding Imax's use of 3D technology. He produced three of the four films using IMAX systems at Osaka's EXPO '90:  Echoes of the Sun, The Last Buffalo and Flowers in the Sky, all of which drew critical and public acclaim.  He was one of the location directors for the first IMAX concert film, Rolling Stones "At The Max".  In November 1997, Imax Corporation unveiled a new proprietary technology, invented and developed by Kroitor, that enables animators to produce innovative three-dimensional stereoscopic animated films . With the SANDDE™ (Stereo Animation Drawing Device) 3D process, animators can now draw and animate in space, freehand. Unlike normal CG software, the results from this new technology have the organic appearance and feel of traditional cel-like animation...  only in three dimensions.
 


2010
D.A. Pennebaker

For his pioneering work and ongoing contributions in the field of documentary production. Mr. Pennebaker has been making documentaries since 1953 and is regarded as one of the film makers who ushered in the style of cinema verité filmmaking. His career achievements include development of one of the first fully portable, synchronized 16 MM camera and sound recording systems which revolutionized the immediate style of documentary film making.

2009
Award not given.

2008
Award not given.

2007
Award not given.

2006
Award not given.

2005
Ken Burns

For his pioneering work in historical documentary film making using animation of still photography to bring history alive, and for the use of sound synchronized to animated stills to create a new reality.

2004
Ed and Steve Sabol

For their creative use of slow motion, zoom lenses, and 16mm film and camera technology to visually document the history of Professional Football with grace and style. Whether freezing cold or sweltering heat; rain, snow, fog or bright sunlight; NFL Films captures the images on film; transfers them to video and edits them into weekly highlights and later into season highlights for each of 20 different NFL Teams.

2003
Award not given.

2002
Edmund M. Di Giulio

Director, Research & Development, Tiffen Corp., has been selected as the recipient of this award for his innovative thinking and leadership, which have advanced the art and craft of both nonfiction and narrative filmmaking. He developed a barcode reader for telecines and other tools that have enabled filmmakers and post-production houses to utilize Kodak KeyKode technology to automate synchronizing film and sound. He subsequently pioneered other uses of technology, including enhanced camera viewing systems, which have provided filmmakers with useful tools. Di Giulio has played important roles on SMPTE study groups and standards committees. He has been recognized by both the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

2001
Award not given.

2000
Award not given.

1999
Colin Low

For his pioneering role in the use of 35mm, 70mm, Imax, and Omnimax formats in documentary film production.

1998
Jim Frazier

For his pioneering work in micro/macro cinematography of invertebrate animals, leading to the design of the Panavision-Frazier Lens System.

1997
Albert Maysles

For the creation, with his late brother, David, of Direct Cinema, a film form equivalent to the nonfiction novel.

1996
Robert Drew

Who as leader of the Robert Drew Group at Time, Inc., was responsible for the advancement of the cinema verite or direct cinema art form. His team's work led to the development of a camera/sound system which was lightweight, quiet, flexible, and had no cable connections between the camera and the sound recorder.

1995
Marcel Carriere

For his continued involvement in the furthering of the documentary film genre through the use of creative technical means.

1994
W. Tuckerman Biays

For his significant technical achievement in the development and innovative application of Aquacolor multiple-filter systems for underwater photography.

1993
Richard Leacock

In recognition of his significant contributions to the art and technology of documentary filmmaking. His quest to design ever lighter and affordable camera equipment has made it possible for documentary cinematographers to be less intrusive and to capture the actual flow of filmed life.

1992
James Murray

Executive producer of The Nature of Things. and an international leader in natural history and environmental filmmaking for more than 30 years.

1991
Pierre Angenieux

For his introduction of the lightweight 12-20mm zoom lens, used in part in virtually every classic documentary.

1990
Al Giddings

Who has gained a reputation as being the most creative and talented filmmaker of undersea and water action sequences in both documentary and entertainment films.

1989
Donald T. Meier

For leading many technological advances in documentary filmmaking, largely in connection with the production of the Wild Kingdom television series over a 25-year period.

1988
Donald Brittain

For his many achievements as director, producer, and writer of some of the most prominent documentary films produced in Canada.

1987
Ross Lowell

In recognition of his many achievements, inventions, and innovative developments in the field of lightweight lighting and of grip equipment.

1986
Leonard A. Green

In recognition of his techniques and engineering designs in sound and audio recording, and his involvement in coordinating facilities for the photography of a 3-D Imax documentary film.

1985
William C. Shaw

In recognition of his many years of research, design, and development of the IMAX camera and large-screen projection technology.

1984
Kenneth Richter

For the design and manufacture of specialized motion picture equipment that has contributed to the improvement of the quality of documentary and travel films throughout the world.

1983
Stefan Kudelski

For his achievements leading to the development of the portable Nagra recorder and the use of crystal-controlled camera drives, which made possible high-quality sound recording in remote locations.

1982
Jean-Pierre Beauviala

For his outstanding technical achievement in the design of hand-held cameras, associated electronic circuitry, and time-code synchronizing systems.

1981
Peter Parks

A zoologist, marine biologist, artist, engineer, craftsman, cameraman and founding member of Oxford Scientific Film Ltd., now world famous for their contribution to natural history filmmaking.

1980
Chester E. Beachell

In recognition of his many innovative techniques, procedures and engineering developments to enhance the technology, quality and economy in cinematography and sound recording for documentary motion pictures and television.

1979
Jacques-Yves Cousteau

For his research, design and development of equipment which gave humanity the possibility of truly exploring the ocean. Through the use of film and video he has enabled us to see his undersea world.

1978
Forrest O. Calvin
(posthumously)
who through his vision, ability and determination, enhanced the beginning and growth of the l6mm nontheatrical film industry which was the heart of documentary films.

1977
William H. Offenhauser, Jr.

A pioneer in the development of many standards for l6mm sound films, whose efforts in improving techniques and equipment have greatly enhanced the use of l6mm sound documentary films throughout the world.

1976
Gerald G. Graham

A leader in the research, development and application of equipment and techniques in the documentary film field.

1975
Lloyd Thompson

A pioneer in the 16 and 8mm field, who by his efforts and engineering ability created l6mm laboratory equipment, techniques and procedures that helped make 16mm production possible.

1974
Eric M. Berndt

For outstanding pioneering achievements in the development, design and manufacture of the equipment and systems for small-format films, including l6mm, 8mm and 4mm.

1973
Geo. W. Colburn

For pioneering developments in the design and construction of 8mm printing and processing equipment for nontheatrical film audience.