For Academy Award®-winning director John Zaritsky and writer/musician/businesswoman Montana Berg, the opportunity to work together is a match made in Vancouver, BC, in 2007. Two years later, MagicalFlute Films is a bi-coastal, bi-national venture into the artistic and emotional dimensions of documentary cinema, a genre that John Zaritsky has been ennobling for more than thirty years.
Montana Berg founded MagicalFlute Films, LLC in January 2009. She is in the process of co-producing her first documentary film with executive producer/director John Zaritsky of Point Grey Pictures, Inc. from Vancouver, Canada.
Berg has a strong background in business and finance. Prior to this venture, Berg served as president of an international manufacturing business with annual revenue of $15 million dollars. Her responsibilities included overseeing day-to-day operations of the production with 70+ employees reporting to her. She was also directly involved in budgeting and played an active role in marketing and sales. During her tenure, she successfully launched the product (kitchen cabinets) in Shanghai, China.
Berg is also an established freelance writer and photographer. Her articles and photographs (published under the name Renate Siekmann) have been featured in a number of different regional newspapers. She has published more than 100 articles covering a wide array of topics including gourmet foods and cooking, travel, recreational activities and classical music. She also co-authored the latest editions of two books, the Adventure Guide to the Bahamas and the Adventure Guide to Bermuda. Furthermore, she has written extensively about the business of photography and published well over 140 photographs.
Berg divides her time between Vancouver, B.C. and Bucks County, PA. In her spare time, she enjoys playing her flute, through which Zaritsky and Berg met; hence, the name MagicalFlute Films was born.
John Zaritsky has won more than 30 awards for his documentary films. Some of his major honors include an Academy Award® for his documentary“Just Another Missing Kid”, a Cable Ace Award for “Rapists: Can They be Stopped”, a Golden Gavel Award from the American Bar Association for “My Husband is Going to Kill Me”, a Robert F. Kennedy Foundation Award for “Born in Africa”, and an Alfred Dupont Award from Columbia University’s School of Journalism for “Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo”.
His films have won awards at the New York Film Festival, the American Film Festival, Banff Television Festival, Houston International Film Festival, Columbus Ohio Film Festival, and the John Muir Medical Film Festival. Three films, “Broken Promises”, “Born in Africa”, and “Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo” were nominated for Emmy Awards. In addition, Zaritsky was nominated for fourteen Geminis, Canada’s national television award, and won seven. In 1995-96, he was an artist-in-residence at the graduate school of journalism, University of California at Berkeley.
Zaritsky made films from his home base in Toronto for twenty years. He moved to Vancouver in 1999 to direct the film Ski Bums (Sundance 2002) and never left the west coast. He created the production company Point Grey Pictures and since then Point Grey Pictures has produced the documentaries Men Don’t Cry: Prostate Cancer Stories, and No Kidding: The Search for the World’s Funniest Joke, both commissioned by CBC’s Witness series. Most recently, John has directed the Gemini winners College Days College Nights, The Suicide Tourist and The Wild Horse Redemption for Point Grey Pictures. His recent films have been screened at Sundance Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, International Documentary Film Festival (Amsterdam), Vancouver Film Festival, South By Southwest Film Festival, Hot Docs Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival (Australia), Sedona Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival (Greece) and Reykjavik International Film Festival (Iceland).
Prior to entering the film business, Zaritsky worked as a newspaper reporter for seven years. In 1970, he received a Ford Foundation Fellowship to study at the Washington Journalism Center for six months. In 1972, he won a National Newspaper Award for his investigative reporting at Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail.
Zaritsky divides his time between Vancouver and Whistler as he is an avid skier.