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One of the best filmmaking talents of his generation, whose first feature film, Goin’ Down the Road (1970) (made for $27,000 on grant funding), is a key reference point in English-Canadian film, and probably the Canadian feature cited most often. Not only is Shebib a central figure in the development of English-Canadian cinema but he is also an eloquent, compassionate chronicler of individual alienation and collective Canadian angst.
Before launching into his feature film career, Shebib made several award-winning, lucid documentaries for the NFB and CBC-TV, notably Surfin’ (1964), Satan’s Choice (1965) and Good Times Bad Times (1969), which won three Genies. Shebib’s second feature was less successful, but his third feature, Between Friends (1973), which toured the festival circuit at Cannes, London, Berlin, Chicago, Edinburgh, Sydney and Melbourne, is perhaps his most accomplished work until Heartaches (1981), which won three Genies.
He has made many noteworthy dramas for television, especially The Fighting Men (1977), which was later released in a 35mm theatrical version, By Reason of In­sanity (1982) and Little Kidnappers (1990), starring Charlton Heston — one of Disney’s highest-rated movies of the week.
His later features have tended to move away from the themes and styles that dominated his early work and sug­gest a mature talent at ease with the medium. However, his later work, which has been mostly for television (Night Heat, The Addams Family, Police Academy, E.N.G., Wind at My Back, and others) has failed to garner the same critical attention as his early work.
Shebib, who played amateur and semi-pro football for over 25 years, studied sociol­ogy at the University of Toronto and film at UCLA, where he directed his first film. He is also an accomplished editor and has won three Genies for his editing work. He has co-written most of his films and written several screenplays.