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Film Reels

Dave Barber

Photo-Tribute produced by the Barber family.



October 26, 1953 – July 26, 2021

Sadly, we announce that Dave passed away on July 26, 2021 at the age of 67 following complications related to a ruptured ulcer.  The family would like to extend their thanks to the staff at St. Boniface Hospital for the care extended to Dave in his final days.


Dave is survived by three brothers, Paul (Kim, deceased), Steve (Ruth) and Alan (Barb); nephews, Alex (Sara), Tom (Angela), Jeff (Arielle) and Colin (Rebecca); nieces, Laura and Carolyn (Adam); great nephews, Luke and Theo as well as great nieces, Ellie and Nora.  Dave was predeceased by his parents Clarence and Babs.


Dave was adored by his family and was a special brother and uncle who will be sorely missed.  A child at heart, he formed special bonds with all of his nieces and nephews.  He had a special ability to relate to them as peers, with some of them affectionately referring to him as “Uncle Baby”.  He brought a quirky irreverence to everything that lightened and brightened all of our lives.  Dave’s visits to family in Toronto and Victoria or at the family cottage at Lake of the Woods were eagerly anticipated and events not to be missed.


Growing up in River Heights, Dave attended Grosvenor, River Heights and Kelvin schools before graduating high school from University of Winnipeg Collegiate.  One of Dave’s great passions was film, which made an early appearance as he formed a Film Club at Kelvin High School.  He earned a BA at the University of Manitoba, where he minored in film studies and scripted, filmed and edited four films with his brother Alan to complete course requirements.  Some of his work can still be viewed today here.  He also obtained a degree in Creative Communications at Red River College.


Dave went on to have a career doing what he loved and, in the course of his work, made an indelible impression on the Manitoba arts scene as Senior Programmer for the Winnipeg Film Group for almost 40 years.  Dave’s key responsibility with the Winnipeg Film Group was to program films at the Winnipeg Cinematheque Theatre in the Artspace Building.    Dave devoted tireless creative energy to the task of bringing local art house films to Winnipeg that were generally unavailable to local audiences and artists.  He not only enriched the local Winnipeg arts culture but also introduced local emergent Winnipeg film talents to the cinema of the world.


He programmed and promoted the work of emerging local and Canadian filmmakers with enthusiasm, vigour and homespun “huckster” publicity campaigns.  Some of which could be seen as short films in their own right.  Some of his bests are:


Everything's on Sale (this is my all-time favourite)

How the Grump Stole Cinematheque


Holiday Sales (Dave as Scrooge - we won an Advertising Award for this one, which Dave was very proud of!)


Holiday Sales (Dave as Cinematheque Santa)

Dialing for Deals  (this was one of the last ones we did together, it's based on an old SCTV skit)

Preaching the Gospel of Canadian Cinema 

Cinematheque Programmer Fights for Canadian Film  (this is the first one we made)

But his impact went far beyond programming films at the theatre as he became the friend, mentor, advocate and promoter for many local filmmakers.  News of his death prompted an outpouring of love and support for Dave as a humble, generous and kind soul who will be deeply missed by Winnipeg’s film community.  Among the tributes are accounts of how Dave’s gentle words of encouragement helped spur many filmmakers to greater heights and of how quiet unsolicited advocacy efforts helped to promote local and Canadian independent films.


In 1999 Dave won a Special Achievement Award at the Blizzard Awards Show and in 2007 he was awarded the Manitoba Art’s Council’s first ever “Making a Difference” Award. 


Among his achievements was having his short film “Will the Real Dave Barber Please Stand Up” accepted at Toronto’s Hot Docs Film Festival.  This film told the story of Dave receiving a Queen’s Diamond Jubliee Award in 2012 that was intended for another David Barber.  In 2018, Dave and co-director Kevin Nikkel completed “Tales from the Winnipeg Film Group”, which traces the history of the organization from its early beginnings, of which Dave was an integral part.


Dave also had a lifelong love of music.  While evident at an early age, this interest perhaps peaked when he attended the famous Isle of Wight music festival in 1970.  Known as the last of the great music festivals, headliners included The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez among many, many others.  That same year, while travelling with family in Europe, Dave also went to concerts by Eric Clapton, Jethro Tull, Procul Harum, Yes, Fleetwood Mac, The Byrds, Black Sabbath, The Band, Pink Floyd and Elton John (second on the bill to Fotheringay) among others.  Dave loved to share his love of music with family, making mixed tapes for brothers, nieces and nephews that introduced them to new musicians and new musical genres, often introducing rock and roll to young ears.


Dave will be sorely missed by his immediate family as well as his much broader family in the Manitoban and Canadian arts community.

In memory of Dave, donations would be appreciated to the “Dave Barber Feature Filmmaking Fund” at the Winnipeg Film Group.


Cremation & Life Celebrations

530 St, Mary Avenue - Winnipeg

204-421-5501 -

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