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Men don’t cry, but boy can they ski

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What: Men Don’t Cry: Prostate Cancer Stories

Who: Johnny Zaritsky

Where: CBC Witness Program

When: Wednesday, June 11

Academy award winning filmmaker, triple Emmy nominee and Whistler resident, Johnny Zaritsky (a.k.a Johnny Amsterdam) has more to celebrate this year than the 20 th anniversary of his Oscar. He is celebrating being alive.

You see by all accounts, Zaritsky should be dead. He’s smoked like a chimney, survived a triple by-pass operation seven years ago, skied like a madman, and made more than 20 death-defying documentaries in his career. Surely this is one cool cat that has used up his nine lives.

He’s filmed from the front lines of the Bosnian War, captured life in the worst drug-addled slums in America and lived amidst the AIDS epidemic to show the world another side of life, while changing legislation in the process. But just recently he discovered he had prostate cancer. Last November in fact, in an ironic twist we’ll get to, but 200 electrodes of radiation later and the Ski Bums movie director is adamant he’s in the clear again and shows no signs of stopping.

"Slow down? Why?" Zaritsky asked. "I’ve led a charmed life full of adventure so I just saw cancer as another challenge really," he smiled.

Only time will tell whether Zaritsky has won this latest battle but right now the cheeky and popular 60-year-old is moving on. He’s set himself up in a new bachelor pad, has a nomination for Best Sports Documentary for Ski Bums at the Banff TV Festival next week and has another documentary slated for production this year. But most importantly, in a case of art imitating life, he has a film going to air this week on CBC called Men Don’t Cry, on Wednesday June 11 for the Witness program.

For Men Don’t Cry: Prostate Cancer Stories , Zaritsky spent most of last year following the lives of three middle-aged men and their families through three very different methods of treatment. It was his own idea to make the film when he suddenly found himself surrounded by friends who were being diagnosed.

"My ex-girlfriend’s partner and my own father died of the disease and the statistics are so alarming. One in eight men will die of prostate cancer this year," said Zaritsky.

Some experts estimate that number will triple in the next 20 years so he connected with leading cancer specialists and found "one of the best film subjects of my entire career" in 60-year-old Bob Hunter, the co-founder of Greenpeace and a reporter for City TV in Toronto. Hunter, along with 51-year-old Vancouver auto-body mechanic, Gary Marshall and 62-year-old truck driver, Jake Unger, all knew the stakes were high and talked openly with Zaritsky about their feelings and decisions on camera.

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