Filmmaker and York Professor Emeritus Vincent (Vince) Vaitiekunas

Faculty of Fine Arts Professor Emeritus Vincent de Paul (Vince) Vaitiekunas died on Feb. 22 at Brantford General Hospital following a long illness.

Born in Lithuania, Professor Vaitiekunas studied architecture and opera in Germany after World War II. He immigrated to Canada in 1947, studied at the Ontario College of Art and graduated from Sterndale Bennett’s Canadian Theatre School in 1953. In the following years he designed stage sets for theatre companies in Toronto and under the stage name of Vincent Edward he acted in Canadian and British feature films.

Left: Vince Vaitiekunas in 1984

Vaitiekunas worked as a professional filmmaker from 1956 onwards, including stints as a film director, editor, screenwriter and producer for the CBC in Toronto, Crawley Films in Ottawa and Toronto, National Film Board in Montreal and Toronto and many other independent Canadian and American film production companies. Over the course of his career, he garnered many awards for his work including Silver and Bronze medals at the New York International Film Festival, the Certificate of Merit at Filmex, two Etrogs at the Canadian Film Awards, and the Diploma of Merit at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

He was chosen to represent Canada’s best documentary work in the Salute to Documentary retrospective in Montreal with his film, Strike. Vaitiekunas was a resident artist in film at Simon Fraser University from 1972-1974. He was appointed associate professor in the Department of Film & Video, York University in 1974. In 1982, he received the OCUFA Teaching Award given by the Ontario Council of University Faculty Associations in recognition of his outstanding contributions as an educator. He retired in 1993 but continued his association with the University, teaching part-time until 1999 when he was named professor emeritus of the Department of Film & Video at York.

Professor Vaitiekunas is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Anna Dowbiggin, son Vincent Vaitiekunas, granddaughters Sydney and Joanna Dowbiggin, and by many cousins in Lithuania. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation.

A memorial service for friends, colleagues and former students will be held Saturday, March 4, at 1pm, at the Morley Bedford Funeral Home, 159 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto.