Legendary documentarian donates film collection to Ryerson

Legendary Toronto filmmaker Barry Avrich is donating his vibrant archives to Ryerson University. The school announced Thursday that its faculty of communication and design will be receiving the Barry Avrich Collection for research and historical preservation.

Avrich, a documentarian who has won multiple awards, holds the title of distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson. He has also produced many Stratford Festival productions, such as Antony and Cleopatra and Twelfth Night. The Shakespeare classics will also be kept by Ryerson.

The collection includes the original versions of Avrich’s films, raw footage, extended interviews and other historical documents like newspaper and magazine clippings. Previously housed at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the archives include documentaries such as The Last Mogul and Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project.

“I did a film called The Last Mogul about Lew Wasserman, so you’ve got interviews with Jack Valenti,” said Avrich in a Ryerson press release. “Not only was he there in Texas when Kennedy was assassinated, but he also became Lyndon Johnson’s head of communications and went on to run the Motion Picture Association of America.”

The collection will be used for research by students and scholars at Ryerson. Avrich, who attended Ryerson as a student, said this is his way of repaying the university for all it’s done for him.

“It’s…my give-back. Ryerson has been good to me; the city has been good to me; so people should have these assets,” said Avrich.

Among the interviews included in the archives are those featuring notable figures such as Martin Scorsese, David Carr, Larry King and Al Goldstein, among many others.

Charles Falzon, dean of the faculty of communication and design, thinks Ryerson’s schools of image arts, creative industries, performance, and radio and television arts will benefit greatly from the collection.

“It connects to all the various creative industries that FCAD represents,” said Falzon in the press release. “This is part of a direction I’d like to continue going: of having a sense of being media archivists.”


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