A shudder of shock went through T.O.'s film community yesterday when news hit of the tragic death of Roberto Ariganello, executive director of the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT) and one of the city's most vital cultural workers devoted to indie film.
Ariganello drowned while vacationing outside Halifax. He had driven to Nova Scotia to cart a Steinbeck flat-bed editing machine to artists in need of equipment.
The mission typified Ariganello's approach to supporting independent filmmakers.
"Not everyone gets into a rental van to drive equipment to Nova Scotia," says a devastated Deirdre Logue, his close friend and executive director of the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC). "He was exceptional in the lengths he would go to."
Ariganello headed up the CFMDC and Pleasure Dome from 2000 to 2004, was a board member of the Cultural Careers Council of Ontario (CCCO), a member of the advisory board of the Humber College film and television program and of the Workman Theatre training advisory committee, among others.
According to Logue, he was a robust, let's-do-it kind of guy, which makes his death - likely caused by a heart attack or stroke while swimming - all the more baffling.
"He had so much joie de vivre. He could drive us all nuts. He had a luminous personality but sometimes had a hard time getting out of the way.
"He dedicated his life to the empowerment of artists."
Filmmaker and instructor Lynne Fernie remembers bringing her students to LIFT around grant time.
"He gave every person special attention. It didn't matter that the students had no experience," she says.
"He took everybody seriously," says Logue. "'You want to make a film?' he'd ask. 'Let's do it.'
"After this, none of us will be the same."
Viewing today (Thursday, August 17), 2 to 4 pm and 7 to 9 pm, at the Lynett Funeral Home (3299 Dundas West, 416-767-1176). Funeral service Friday ( August 18), 10 am, at St. Joan of Arc Church (1701 Bloor West, 416-762-1026).