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John Dunning (April 27, 1927 – September 19, 2011) was a pioneering Canadian film producer from Montreal who co-founded the Canadian film production company Cinépix and produced early works by notable Canadian directors David Cronenberg and Ivan Reitman. Dunning launched Cinépix with partner André Link in Montreal in the early 1960s. Their biggest commercial success—and the first Canadian box office hit—came with Reitman’s Meatballs (1979).[1][2]

Early lifeEdit

Dunning was born in the Greater Montreal district of Verdun, Quebec—and into the film business. Dunning's father Mickey toured Quebec screening newsreel footage and later owned several cinemas. By the age of 13, John was working the candy counter at his family's Century Theatre in adjacent Ville-Émard. Upon his father's death several years later, Dunning managed the cinema, beginning a lifelong career in film.[2]


Dunning and Link were honoured for their contributions to the Canadian film industry at the 14th Genie Awards and were inducted into the Canadian Film and Television Hall of Fame in 2007.[1][2] In June 2011, shortly before his death in September of that year, the Toronto Film Critics Association announced that Dunning would receive its Clyde Gilmour Award for lifetime achievement, with Cronenberg stating that "John Dunning is the unacknowledged godfather of an entire generation of Canadian filmmakers. I still consider him my movie mentor." The award was posthumously presented to Dunning's son Greg, at a ceremony in January 2012.[3][4]

Dunning's memoirs, You're Not Dead until You're Forgotten, were published in 2014 by McGill-Queen's University Press.[5]

In 2017, the Canadian Screen Awards introduced the new John Dunning Discovery Award, presented to honour the year's best Canadian microbudget film. In 2019, it was merged with the former Claude Jutra Award, presented for the year's best debut film by a first-time director, into the contemporary John Dunning Best First Feature Award.


  1. ^ a b Barnes, Mike (22 September 2011). "John Dunning, Canadian Film Pioneer, Dies at 84". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Brownstein, Bill (27 September 2011). "John Dunning, champion of the Canadian film industry, dead at 84". National Post. Postmedia News. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  3. ^ Hayward, Anthony (27 October 2011). "John Dunning: Film producer and mentor to David Cronenberg". The Independent. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  4. ^ Vlessing, Etan (2012-01-05). "Toronto film critics to honour the late John Dunning with Clyde Gilmour Award". Playback. Retrieved 2017-02-04.
  5. ^ "You're Not Dead until You're Forgotten". McGill-Queen’s University Press. Retrieved 2017-02-04.

External linksEdit