Forget about bars: look at the phrases, please. That's what is important. Remember that bars are only the boxes in which the music is packed.”

-Sir Thomas Beecham

Eric Till

2004 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Film)

As a director of film and television, Eric Till is recognized as a brilliant and passionate artist whose early productions for the Festival series became the first CBC productions to contend for International Emmy awards. Since then, he has built a worldwide reputation as a tireless creative leader who draws the very best from the artists who are fortunate enough to work with him.

Born and educated in England, Eric began his professional career at a British radio station in Hamburg, writing on-air continuity and colour notes for orchestral concerts with The Hamburg Philharmonic and the great Berlin Philharmonic. At that time, he wrote and produced numerous programs of English music and biographies of British composers, which led to his appointment at the BBC music department.

Arriving in Canada in 1954, he was hired as Company Manager for the National Ballet, where he became a lasting friend of Glenn Gould, with whom he produced and directed three of Gould's television specials. Later, Eric wrote and directed the multiple award-winning Glenn GouldA Portrait, following the pianist's death.

He has directed/produced ballet programs on television for the Royal Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and such acclaimed miniseries as The National Dream, Glory Enough for All, Talking to a Stranger, To Catch a Killer, and The Newcomers.

His best-known Canadian films are Small Gifts, Getting Married in Buffalo Jump, First Snowfall, Win Again, Turning To Stone, and A Nest of Singing Birds.

His international film credits are substantial – Bethune with Donald Sutherland and Kate Nelligan, A Fan's Notes with Jerry Orbach and Burgess Meredith, James Herriot's All Things Bright and Beautiful, Brian Friel's Freedom of the City, A Walking Stick with Samantha Eggar and David Hemmings – and Hot Millions, a classic comedy starring Maggie Smith and Peter Ustinov.

His most recent work includes his dramatic creation of the life of the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer which won the Grand Prix at the 2001 Monte Carlo Film Festival and the 2003 film, Luther.

When asked which of his films he likes most, he replies with typical optimism and determination, “the next one.” Staying at the top of his game when many have retired, he is a deeply funny but unassuming gentleman whose friendship is beyond price and talent monumental. No wonder that Peter Ustinov called him “the best director I have ever worked with.” Yes indeed, a quiet genius.