The forgotten director who gave us The Force, inspired 2001, and changed film


Kroitor, who died in 2012, was known for a string of innovations in movie-making. He was at the forefront of the cinéma vérité movement, typified by films like Lonely Boy as well as a pair of short documentaries on the legendary piano player Glenn Gould, and another that brings viewers into the life of Igor Stravinsky. Later, Kroitor pioneered multi-screen filmmaking and co-founded IMAX, the company that would deliver a giant-sized cinematic experience to viewers around the world. And along the way, he made a film that inspired Stanley Kubrick as he was making 2001: A Space Odyssey—plus Kroitor just happened to give George Lucas the idea for “the Force.”

But above all else, Roman Kroitor was a risk-taker who intuitively understood the elements of visual storytelling, recalls filmmaker Stephen Low, who often collaborated with Kroitor (as did his father, Colin Low). While Kroitor made dramas as well as documentaries, there was something about the latter format that fascinated him. As Low puts it, he “loved telling real stories that celebrated real people.”

It is Kroiter's contributions to documentaries that I appreciate most. What point is there of learning about humanity if all the humanity is stripped away, choreographed, and rehearsed?