A man who many believe was the heart of Winnipeg’s film community has passed away.
Dave Barber, filmmaker and key figure at the Cinémathèque in the Bourse district, died on Monday.
He was extremely ill in the hospital receiving treatment at the time, according to a post from his family on his Facebook account. Messages of support poured into his page.
Through his participation in the Winnipeg Film Group, Barber has worked as a senior programmer at the Cinémathèque since 1982.
There was so much more to local producers and filmmakers.
“It’s a devastating loss for all of us,” said Sean Garrity, a Winnipeg director who worked closely with Barber for many years. “It leaves such a giant and empty space in the very center of Winnipeg’s film community.”
Barber helped build the city’s film scene and every successful filmmaker in Winnipeg has to thank him, Garrity said.
Barber was respected across the country and had experience in all aspects of filmmaking. He’s been featured in numerous shorts and marketing campaigns, and he’s engaged with everyone from world leaders to high school students on an equal footing, Garrity said.
“He took time for everyone and was happy to help the filmmakers at all levels,” Garrity said. Up to speed guest host Marjorie Dowhos on Tuesday.
“A high school student would say… ‘I’m interested in making a movie, I’ve edited something on my iPhone. And Dave’s response would be, “Wow let’s take a look, what have you got? “And so many filmmakers in this community say it’s the start for them.”
Garrity has always been thrilled that in Winnipeg you get to see movies outside of the giant blockbusters that dominate the mainstream.
This interest in independent films led him to the Cinémathèque in 1997 to watch a locally produced film that Barber was helping to promote.
Meeting Barber and the filmmaker sparked a revelation for Garrity: Being a filmmaker didn’t necessarily mean he had to move, he could tell stories in Winnipeg and have an engaged local audience to welcome them.
“The space Dave created and the support Dave gave was a key part of that.”
Garrity says the only memory that stands out for him was during the production of his third feature film just over ten years ago.
He was trying to convince a distributor in Toronto to pick it up and put it in theaters, when Barber offered to show it at the Cinematheque. Barber assured him that the success of the film did not depend on getting a Toronto producer.
He put Garrity in touch with filmmakers and cinemas across Canada and encouraged him to distribute the film himself.
“Like so many times with Dave, it was that light bulb moment like, ‘What, can I do that?’ And I’ve kind of been doing it ever since, “Garrity said.” It’s just one of the many things, these experiences you have with Dave, it’s like he’s lighting the way forward. ”
Garrity believes Barber’s legacy is that of someone who cared deeply for others and wanted to see them succeed.
“I don’t think he really had a clue how important he was to all of us,” Garrity said.
“There’s no way to replace Dave, but you know he left a role model for us to try and emulate, so I hope we do.”
10:18In memory of Dave Barber, a key figure in the Winnipeg film community.