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Barry Michael Avrich
May 9, 1963
Barry Michael Avrich (// AYV-ritch; born May 9, 1963) is a Canadian film director, film producer, author, marketing executive, and arts philanthropist. Avrich's film career has included critically acclaimed films about the entertainment business including The Last Mogul about film producer Lew Wasserman (2005), Glitter Palace about the Motion Picture Country Home (2005), and Guilty Pleasure about the Vanity Fair columnist and author Dominick Dunne (2004). In addition, Avrich produced the Gemini-nominated television special Caesar and Cleopatra (2009) with Christopher Plummer. Avrich also produced Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Awards (2015) as well as the Canadian Screen Awards (2015-2017) and The Scotiabank Giller Prize (2015-Curent).
Besides films, Avrich has authored three books and one play as well as supporting many leading cultural institutions including The Toronto International Film Festival and the Stratford Festival of Canada. Avrich was responsible for creating the world's first state of the art movie theatre in a children's hospital at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario. Avrich won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2008. In 2016, Avrich published his memoir, "Moguls, Monsters and Madmen."
Avrich was born in Montreal, Quebec, the son of Irving Avrich, a garment industry executive, and Faye Avrich, a housewife. His parents immersed him in the arts as a child. In school, Avrich produced talent shows and started experimenting with films. While attending Vanier College, he gravitated to the film program and while there, he produced many films. in 1980, he moved to Toronto where he continued to study film, art and theatre at both Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and the University of Toronto. While in school, Avrich started Rent-A-Fan Club, a company that offered "celebrity status" to people as a novelty by using his fellow acting students to create fan clubs. Soon after graduating, Avrich made two short films that would get him noticed: The King of Yorkville (1985) was a satirical parody of the 1980s dating scene that was picked up by local television stations in Canada, and The Madness of Method (1995), featuring M. Emmet Walsh, won a Gold Medal at the Bilbao International Festival of Documentary and Short Films.
Avrich created Melbar Entertainment Group in 1998 to produce documentary films. Avrich has directed and produced over many acclaimed documentaries and television specials. His focus is generally on the entertainment industry and television specials including the music special, Bowfire for PBS (2008), One x One Gala (2007) for CTV and Caesar and Cleopatra (2009) for Bravo and CTV. Other films have chronicled defense attorney Edward Greenspan and the Rolling Stones promoter Michael Cohl. Recent projects have included films about Winston Churchill and David Steinberg. His 2010 film Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project went into limited release in February 2011. The Last Mogul (2005) is probably his best known film to date. The Variety critic Robert Koehler said of the documentary about Lew Wasserman, it "draws a full and balanced measure of the man, from his stratospheric rise to a remarkably humbling fall, and includes as thorough a study of the super-agent-turned-mogul's shady ties with organized crime as any feature docu could hope to muster." In 2017, Avrich announced plans for a docu-series on American financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, however he decided to scrap the project after Epsteins suicide in August, 2019, claiming the topic to be "too distasteful". In 2018, Avrich directed and produced the first "#metoo documentary on Harvey Weinstein that premiered at Hot Docs Film Festival and was sold to CBC and Hulu. In 2018, Avrich produced and directed an acclaimed and award winning documentary Prosecuting Evil on Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz. In 2019, Avrich directed and produced Off The Record, a biography on Grammy award winning producer and composer David foster for Crave and Netflix, the film premiered at tiff. In 2020, Avrich produced Made You Look, a documentary about the infamous Knoedler Gallery art fraud scandal.
Avrich began a marketing career in 1985 at Borden Advertising where he worked on national campaigns for the Canadian original production of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon. In 1989, Avrich joined Echo Advertising where he became partner and eventually CEO. While at Echo, Avrich and his staff developed award-winning international campaigns for such clients such as the Toronto International Film Festival, the Rolling Stones, American Express, Sprint and for Broadway productions such as Ragtime, Show Boat, Fosse, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Canadian productions of The Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Les Misérables. Avrich left Echo in 2005 after it was sold to a UK-based marketing firm and he started a boutique advertising agency. In 2009, Avrich won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year Award.
- The King of Yorkville, 1987
- The Madness of Method, 1996
- Unforgettable: 100 years Remembered, 1998
- Glitter Palace, 2002
- Guilty Pleasure, 2002
- A Criminal Mind, 2005
- Satisfaction, 2006
- City Lights, 2002
- The Madness of King Richard, 2003
- The Last Mogul, 2005
- One x One Gala, 2007
- Bowfire, 2008
- Citizen Cohl, 2008
- The Ultimate Jew, 2009
- Caesar and Cleopatra, 2009
- Amerika Idol, 2009
- Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Story, 2010
- The Tempest, 2010
- An Unlikely Obsession: Churchill and the Jews, 2011
- Show Stopper: The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinsky, 2012
- Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story , 2013
- Quality Balls The David Steinberg Story, 2013
- Red Alert, 2014
- King Lear, 2015
- Antony and Cleopatra, 2015
- King John, 2015
- Women Who Act, 2015
- The Man Who Shot Hollywood, 2015 (documentary short)
- The Taming of the Shrew, 2016
- Canadian Screen Awards, 2016 (television)
- Hamlet, 2016
- The Scotia Giller Prize Broadcast, 2016 (television)
- Macbeth, 2016
- Blurred Lines, 2017 (documentary)
- "Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz, 2018 (documentary)
- David Foster: Off the Record, 2019 (documentary)
- Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art, 2020
- Howie Mandel: But, Enough About Me, 2020 (Documentary)
- Reversal of Fortune: The Unraveling of Turkey's Democracy, 2020 (Documentary)
- Othello, 2020
- Merry Wives of Windsor, 2020
- Oscar Peterson: Black + White (2021)
- The Talented Mr. Rosenberg (2021)
- Sacrilege (2022)
- Without Precedent (2022)
- "UforChange's The Talk - Barry Avrich". Retrieved 6 July 2020.
- Robert Koehler, "The Last Mogul", Variety Reviews, January 18, 2005
- Robinson, Abby (2019-08-02). "This documentary was scrapped for being "distasteful" – here's why". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
- Ritchie, Kevin (2020-04-06). "Hot Docs 2020 movies to premiere on CBC Gem". NOW Magazine. Retrieved 2020-12-09.
- "‘David Foster: Off The Record’ Feature Documentary In Works With Music Icon Center Stage". Deadline Hollywood, July 16, 2019.
- Event and Entertainment Marketing, 1994, Probus Publishing
- Selling The Sizzle, 2002, Lester Publishing
- Selling The Sizzle 2, The Sequel, 2005, Lester Publishing
- The Madness of Method, 2001, Maxworks Publishing
- Moguls, Monsters, and Madmen 2017, ECW Press