B: April 19, 1933 in Budapest, Hungary
D: August 24, 2016 in Century City, California
George Kaczender was an assistant director in Hungary before fleeing with his family during the chaos of the revolution and the Soviet invasion. His father, Jeno, a factory owner, was out of the country on business and waited for the rest of the his family to join him. They travelled together to Austria, then France and finally to Genoa, Italy, where they boarded a ship for Halifax. Kaczender found work at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in Montreal in 1956. He worked as an editor and cut 85 films at the NFB in his first five years, then wrote and directed 12 more during the next seven. Perhaps his best known work during this period was Phoebe, a superbly sensitive look at teen-age pregnancy, which earned him rave reviews and seven top awards from New York to Oberhausen. He also claimed credit for discovering Michael Sarrazin (You’re No Good, 1965). In addition to making several award-winning documentaries, Kaczender specialized in writing and directing sympathetic studies of youth and sex, honing his talent for drama and sharpening his sensitivities for his first feature. “Artistically and technically the film is a small miracle,” wrote Gerald Pratley of Don’t Let the Angels Fall. It was the first Canadian feature film ever selected for competition at the Cannes film festival. Having achieved the ultimate at the Board, his own feature film, Kaczender left in 1969 with the distinguished producer John Kemeny (also a Hungarian of 1956 vintage) to set up International Cinemedia Centre and Minotaur Film Productions. He is usually remembered for his then controversial feature In Praise of Older Women, which caused quite a ruckus when it screened as a gala presentation at the third edition of the Toronto International Film Festival in 1978. He also directed Agency (1980), which went on to be nominated for two Genie Awards. Shot in Montreal, the film starred Robert Mitchum, Lee Majors and Valerie Perrine. It was in the early 1980s that he decided to move to California. He had tired of Canadian winters in Montreal and hoped to find greater opportunity in Hollywood. While the weather was certainly better his career more or less stagnated. He continued to write and to direct, but the bulk of his work was in television, either working in series or on made-for-TV movies. His novel, An Unreasonable Notion of Desire, was published in 2000 by Xlibris, a subsidiary of Random House. He directed his last project, part of a mini-series, in 2001. Kaczender went on to serve as Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California school of Cinema-Television, teaching film directing from 2002-2004. He was 83 when he died at his home in Century City, California after a long battle with cancer.
Features & TV Movies:
Newton: The Mind That Found The Future (1970)
A Seduction in Travis County (TV-1991)
TV Series – at least 1 episode of:
Christy, Choices of the Heart, Part 1 (mini-series, 2001)