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John Kemeny

John Kemenyb. April 17, 1925, Budapest, Hungary


After beginning his career in film distribution and promotion in his native Hungary, John Kemeny moved to Canada in 1957 and began one of the longest and most successful careers in Canadian filmmaking. He started at the National Film Board as an editor in 1959 and got his big break writing, producing and editing Donald Brittain’s Bethune (1964). In his twelve years at the NFB, he produced more than eighty films, including Brittain’s Memorandum (1965), Tanya Ballantyne’s The Things I Cannot Change (1967), Peter Pearson’s The Best Damn Fiddler from Calabogie to Kaladar (1968) – which won eight Canadian Film Awards, including Best Picture – and George Kaczender’s Don’t Let the Angels Fall (1969), one of the first English-Canadian films invited to compete at the Festival de Cannes.

Kemeny’s first production after leaving the NFB was the hugely successful The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974), which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and a host of other awards. In 1979, he teamed with Denis Héroux and founded the International Cinema Corporation (ICC). Their first collaboration, Louis Malle’s Atlantic City (1980), starring Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon, was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture – the only Canadian drama ever to receive the honour. It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture and the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival.

In the early eighties, ICC merged with Robert Lantos’s RSL Productions to form Alliance Entertainment, and soon afterward Kemeny left the company. Since the mid-eighties, he has produced mainly for Canadian television. He received a Special Achievement Genie Award in 1991 for his contribution to the Canadian film industry.

By Andrew McIntosh

Film and video work includes

Dykes for Dry Land, 1959 (editor)
Grassland Farming, 1959 (editor)
Steering North, 1960 (editor)
Cash Advances for Prairie Grain, 1961 (editor)
Everybody’s Prejudiced, 1961 (editor)
The Real Story of Radar, 1961 (producer)
The Boy Next Door, 1962 (editor)
The Clouded Dawn, Canada at War series, 1962 (editor)
Crisis on the Hill, Canada at War series, 1962 (co-editor with David Green, Tony Lower)
Days of Infamy, Canada at War series, 1962 (editor)
Dusk, Canada at War series, 1962 (co-editor with David Green, Tony Lower)
Henry Larsen’s Northwest Passages, 1962 (editor)
New Directions, Canada at War series, 1962 (editor)
Road to Ortona, Canada at War series, 1962 (editor)
Turn of the Tide, Canada at War series, 1962 (co-editor with David Green, Tony Lower)
What Farm Price Support Means to You, 1962 (editor)
Drylanders, 1963 (co-editor with Kirk Jones)
The Early Journeys of Vilhjamlmur Stefansson, 1963 (editor)
The Later Journeys of Vilhjamlmur Stefansson, 1963 (editor)
Memories and Predictions, 1963 (editor)
Wedding Day/Jour de mariage, Comparisons series, 1963 (editor)
Bethune, 1964 (co-writer with Donald Brittain; editor; co-producer with Donald Brittain; researcher)
Three Country Boys, Comparisons series, 1964 (co-director with Gordon Burwash)
Three Fishermen/Trois pêcheurs, Comparisons series, 1964 (co-director with Julian Biggs)
The Visit, 1964 (director)
Henry Larsen, 1965 (producer)
Ladies and Gentlemen... Mr. Leonard Cohen, 1965 (producer)
Memorandum, 1965 (producer)
The Miner, 1965 (producer)
Stefansson: The Arctic Prophet, 1965 (producer)
Two Men of Montreal, 1965 (co-producer with Donald Brittain, Roman Kroiter, Tom Daly)
You’re No Good, 1965 (producer)
The Game, 1966 (producer)
Level 4350, 1966 (producer)
Little White Crimes, 1966 (co-producer with Roman Kroiter; TV)
The Long Haul Man, 1966 (producer)
The Merry-Go-Round, 1966 (producer)
No Reason to Stay, 1966 (producer)
Ride for Your Life, 1966 (producer)
The Things I Cannot Change, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1966 (producer)
Trawler Fishermen, 1966 (producer)
Andrew Britt at Shoal Bay, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Billy Crane Moves Away, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Brian Earle on Merchants and Welfare, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
The Children of Fogo Island, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
The Circle, 1967 (producer)
Citizen Discussions, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Dan Roberts on Fishing, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Discussion on Welfare, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Encounter at Kwacha House – Halifax, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (co-producer with Barrie Howells)
Encounter with Saul Alinsky – Part 1: CYC Toronto, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (co-producer with Barrie Howells)
Encounter with Saul Alinsky - Part 2: Rama Indian Reserve, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (co-producer with Barrie Howells)
Fishermen’s Meeting, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
The Fogo Island Improvement Committee, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Fogo’s Expatriates, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
The Founding of the Co-operatives, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Halifax Neighbourhood Centre Project, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (co-producer with Barrie Howells)
Indian Dialogue, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Indian Relocation: Elliot Lake, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Jim Decker Builds a Longliner, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Jim Decker’s Party, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Joe Kinsella on Education, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Madawaska Valley, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
McGraths at Home and Fishing, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
The Mercer Family, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
The Merchant and the Teacher, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Pikangikum, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Pow Wow at Duck Lake, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (co-producer with Barrie Howells)
Sabre and Foil, 1967 (producer)
Some Problems of Fogo, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
The Songs of Chris Cobb, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
The Story of the Up Top, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Thoughts on Fogo and Norway, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Tom Best on Co-operatives, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
Two Cabinet Ministers, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
A Wedding and Party, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
William Wells Talks About the Island, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
A Woman’s Place, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1967 (producer)
The Best Damn Fiddler From Calabogie to Kaladar, 1968 (co-producer with Barrie Howells)
Building an Organization, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1968 (co-producer with Barrie Howells)
A Continuing Responsibility, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1968 (co-producer with Barrie Howells)
Deciding to Organize, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1968 (co-producer with Barrie Howells)
Don’t Let the Angels Fall, 1968 (producer)
Introduction to Fogo Island, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1968 (producer)
People and Power, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1968 (co-producer with Barrie Howells)
Saul Alinsky Went to War, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1968 (co-producer with Barrie Howells)
Through Conflict to Negotiation, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1968 (co-producer with Barrie Howells)
Canada the Land/Canada, pays vaste, 1969 (producer)
Don’t Let the Angels Fall, 1969 (producer)
Falling From Ladders, Swedish-Canadian Co-production series, 1969 (co-producer with Joseph Koenig, Tom Daly)
The Land, 1969 (co-producer with Robert Baylis)
Passing Through Sweden, Swedish-Canadian Co-production series, 1969 (co-producer with Joseph Koenig)
The Burden They Carry, Swedish-Canadian Co-production series, 1970 (co-producer with Tom Daly)
The City (Osaka), 1970 (co-producer with Robert Verrall)
Overspill, Swedish-Canadian Co-production series, 1970 (co-producer with Tom Daly)
A Place for Everything, Swedish-Canadian Co-production series, 1970 (co-producer with Joseph Koenig, Tom Daly)
Untouched and Pure, Swedish-Canadian Co-production series, 1970 (co-producer with Tom Daly)
The World of Enrico Fermi, 1970 (co-producer with Gordon Burwash)
7 fois… (par jour), 1971 (co-producer with Denis Héroux, Claude Héroux)
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, 1974 (producer)
White Line Fever, 1975 (producer)
Shadow of the Hawk, 1976 (co-producer with Herbert Wright)
Ice Castles, 1978 (cinematographer)
Atlantic City, 1980 (co-producer with Denis Héroux)
Les Plouffe, 1981 (co-producer with Denis Héroux)
Quest for Fire, 1982 (co-producer with Denis Héroux)
The Bay Boy, 1984 (co-producer with Denis Héroux)
The Blood of Others, 1984 (co-producer with Denis Héroux)
Le Crime d’Ovide Plouffe, 1984 (executive producer)
Louisiana, 1984 (co-producer with Denis Héroux)
The Park Is Mine, 1984 (co-producer with Denis Héroux)
Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, 1985 (co-producer with Denis Héroux; TV)
Le Matou, 1985 (co-executive producer with Denis Héroux)
The Boy in Blue, 1986 (producer)
Sword of Gideon, 1986 (co-executive producer with Denis Héroux; TV)
The Wraith, 1986 (producer) The Gate, 1987 (producer)
Nowhere to Hide, 1987 (executive producer)
Iron Eagle II, 1988 (co-producer with Sharon Harel, Jacob Kotzky)
Red King, White Knight, 1988 (producer; TV)
Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story, 1989 (co-producer with Robert M. Cooper, Abby Mann)
The Josephine Baker Story, 1991 (producer; TV)
Donald Brittain: Filmmaker, 1992 (appears as himself)
The Gate II: Trespassers, 1992 (executive producer)
Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser Story, 1992 (producer; TV)
Dead Silence, 1997 (producer; TV)
When Trumpets Fade, 1998 (producer; TV)

Note: Updated to June 30, 2005


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