Colin Low, Canadian Imax Format Pioneer, Dies at 89

Courtesy of National Film Board of Canada

He won two short film Palme d'Or awards at the Cannes Film Festival.

Colin Low, a former head of animation at the National Film Board of Canada who helped develop Canada’s giant-screen Imax format, died following a short illness Wednesday in Montreal. He was 89.

"Canada will not see his like again and we are forever in his debt,” Claude Joli-Coeur, government film commissioner and NFB chair, said Thursday in a statement. Born on July 24, 1926, in Cardston, Alberta, Low made films at the NFB, Canada's publicly-funded filmmaker, over six decades.

He joined the NFB in 1945, where he shot over 200 films, mostly as director, producer or executive producer. Low directed the first NFB production to receive an Oscar nomination for best animated short, The Romance of Transportation in Canada (1952).

That project won the short film Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and a special BAFTA Award. And Low's 1954 film Corral won best documentary honors at the Venice Film Festival.

He received his second Palme d'Or for best short film at Cannes for the 1957 documentary City of Gold, about the Klondike Gold Rush. In 1960, Low and Roman Kroitor co-directed Universe, which earned the attention of Stanley Kubrick, who was preparing to make 2001: A Space Odyssey. Low was invited to work on 2001 but declined.

His work on In the Labyrinth (1967), co-directed with Kroitor and Hugh O'Connor, helped develop Canada’s giant-screen Imax format. His Imax credits included the first 3D production, Transitions, for Expo 86 in Vancouver, and Momentum, the first film in 48 frames per second Imax HD, made for the Canada Pavilion at Expo 92 in Seville, Spain.

Low is survived by his wife Eugenie and sons Alexander, Ben and Stephen.

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