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John Kastner (filmmaker)

John Kastner (1946 – November 21, 2019) was a four-time Emmy Award-winning Canadian documentary filmmaker whose later work focused on the Canadian criminal justice system. His films included the documentaries Out of Mind, Out of Sight (2014), a film about patients at the Brockville Mental Health Centre, named best Canadian feature documentary at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival;[1] NCR: Not Criminally Responsible (2013), exploring the personal impact of the mental disorder defence in Canada;[2] Life with Murder (2010), The Lifer and the Lady and Parole Dance, and the 1986 made-for-television drama Turning to Stone, set in the Prison for Women in Kingston, Ontario.[3][4]



Non-documentary workEdit

Early in his career, Kastner occasionally took a break from making documentary films on serious topics with lighter fare, which included co-hosting a short-lived children's series for CTV in the early 1980s, Just Kidding, as well as doing comedy segments for the CBC-TV late-night talk show 90 Minutes Live.[5]

A child actor, Kastner's first screenwriting credit came in 1983, when he co-wrote The Terry Fox Story, starring Robert Duvall.[6]

Awards and honoursEdit

Kaster won four Emmy Awards. He won International Emmys for his 1978 film Four Women, a look at breast cancer for the CBC-TV investigative news series The Fifth Estate; the 1980 documentary Fighting Back, about young people with leukemia; and the 2011 film Life With Murder. He also received a News & Documentary Emmy Award for The Lifer and the Lady.[5][7]

Life with Murder also won the Donald Brittain Award for best social/political documentary at the 2011 Gemini Awards,[8] a Special Jury Prize at the Houston Worldfest Film Festival and the awards for Best Political Documentary and Special Achievement in Directing at the Chicago International Film Festival.[6]

Lifetime achievement awardsEdit

Kastner received the Academy Achievement Award at the 22nd annual Gemini Awards, for his contributions to Canadian television journalism.[9] In 2012, he was the subject of a "Focus On" retrospective at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.[4][10]

Personal lifeEdit

He was the brother of actor Peter Kastner.[11]


  1. ^ Laskaris, Kathryn (2 May 2014). "Hot Docs: John Kastner's Out of Mind, Out of Sight takes $10,000 prize". Toronto Star. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  2. ^ Jones, Allison (19 April 2013). "Film explores the meaning of 'not criminally responsible'". The Canadian Press. Toronto: Globe and Mail. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  3. ^ Taylor, Noel (24 February 1986). "Review". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Hot Docs film festival to fete Michel Brault, John Kastner". Toronto Star. 31 January 2012. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  5. ^ a b Worron, Trish (8 August 1983). "Kaster turns to kids for relief from rigours of documentaries". Ottawa Citizen. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  6. ^ a b Massarella, Linda (18 September 2011). "Emmy winner Kastner hard at work". London Free Press. QMI Agency. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  7. ^ Vlessing, Etan (22 November 2011). "John Kastner's Life With Murder wins International Emmy". Playback. Brunico Communications. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  8. ^ "26th Annual Gemini Awards Culminate with Star-Studded Broadcast Gala" (PDF). Press release. Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. 7 September 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  9. ^ "Mr. Dressup finally earns the type of recognition he has so long deserved". National Post. CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc. 5 October 2007. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  10. ^ "HOT DOCS HONOURS LOCAL DOC ICON JOHN KASTNER WITH FOCUS ON RETROSPECTIVE". Press release. Hot Docs. 20 March 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  11. ^ Martin Knelman "Peter Kastner, 64: Actor recalled for role as rebel", Toronto Star, 20 September 2008. The Rick Salutin article in the Globe and Mail takes issue with this obituary.

External linksEdit