Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It is with heartfelt sadness that we extend news of the sudden passing of Roberto Ariganello, LIFT’s long-serving and dedicated Executive Director.

Roberto’s contribution to the film and media arts community in Toronto and across Canada cannot be understated. His tireless work in the community and his enthusiasm for film affected countless artists, arts organizations, administrators, students, and film lovers.  With his boundless energy and spirit, Roberto encouraged numerous emerging and established artists to pick

up a camera and get to work. His refusal to accept traditional boundaries and rules inspired us all. A regular feature at Toronto screenings and art events, we will miss his easy humour, generosity, and eagerness to debate current arts issues.

Roberto spent the past nine years working and advocating on behalf of media artists through his employment at the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT) and his volunteer board contribution to the arts community in Toronto. He became the Executive Director of LIFT in April of 2003 and prior to this was LIFT’s Equipment & Workshop Coordinator. Roberto was the past

president/chair to such organizations as the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC) from 2001 to 2003 and Pleasure Dome from 2000 to 2004. Roberto’s voluntary board duties have included the Cultural Careers Council of Ontario (CCCO), the Advisory Board of Humber College Film & Television Program, the Workman Theatre Training Advisory Committee, and Ontario representative for the Independent Media Arts Alliance (IMAA). Roberto graduated from Ryerson University with a degree in Media Studies, and was a practising filmmaker and photographer who exhibited his work internationally.

While vacationing in Nova Scotia, Roberto drowned in a tragic swimming accident. This loss leaves a gaping hole in the arts community in Toronto, where Roberto will be greatly missed.  We extend our sincere condolences to his family.

Funeral services will be held Friday, August 18th, 10am, at St. Joan of Arc Church, 1701 Bloor St. W. (East of Parkside, South side of Bloor).

Viewings will be held Wednesday, August 16th and Thursday, August 17th, from 2pm-4pm and from 7pm-9pm at Lynett Funeral Home, 3299 Dundas St. West (East of Runnymede, South of St. Clair).  Phone: (416) 767-1176

Further announcements regarding donations and a LIFT memorial event will be forthcoming. We encourage you to submit your thoughts, memories, or tributes to Roberto to

The LIFT office will be closed to the public for the week of August 14-18, 2006.

Sincerely, LIFT Board of Directors and Staff

I write this letter to the membership during a moment of great personal grief. My good friend and colleague Roberto Ariganello passed away on August 13, 2006, accidentally and at the prime of his life. His presence was enormous; the void left in the organization equally great. I first met Roberto in 1995, at a dinner party, and one of the first things he said to me was, “Let’s go to the zoo tomorrow and make a film,” which we did, with a Bolex under a sunny fall sky. He wanted to make a film convert out of everyone, wanted to share his passion for film because he knew that once you tried it, you would be hooked for life!

How to describe a giant in a way that would do him service? Roberto spent the last nine years fiercely defining the viability of film and its deserved place as an art form. He was always willing to help out, willing to teach you something new, and always had an answer. A loyal friend with an easy smile. We need more film champions like him.

The last time I saw him, we talked all business. He was so excited about LIFT’s 25th anniversary and our most ambitious commissioning project “Film is Dead, Long Live Film” a Manifesto made up of 25 Films by 28 artists working solely in film. We are presenting the films at the Cinematheque Ontario on the 22nd and 29th of November as part of their popular Independent Series. After each screening, everyone is invited to Supermarket in Kensington Market for the presentation of the “Love Live Film” performances.

The 13th annual “Shine It On” fundraiser and the “Salon des Refuses” screening took place in early September at the Gladstone Hotel. After much thought the board decided to go ahead with the event as planned taking into consideration how much Roberto enjoyed the event and how important it is for the vitality of LIFT. Thanks to all those who came out to support his vision.

Be assured that the Board of Directors is making provisions to support the staff, Roberto’s family and each other. We are committed to LIFT and its growth, knowing full well how much it meant to Roberto and it is our privilege to serve you all through this transitional period.

Roberto, you were loved and respected by all. We will do our best to fulfill your dream of making LIFT the best place in the world to make films.

Ana Barajas

Chair of the Board, LIFT

(Filmprint, September/October 2006)

Tribute to Roberto Ariganello

August 17th, 2006

I shared with so many others the shock and intense grief when I heard the news of Roberto’s passing. Roberto was such a warm, generous and enthusiastic person – this all seems so impossible. Roberto joined the IMAA Board at last year’s AGM in St.John’s and subsequently had been an active member of the Executive Committee. This past February, we held an Executive meeting in Winnipeg and it was then that I discovered what a truly inspirational person he was.

Roberto was incredibly motivated to move forward with our shared goals for the IMAA and equally as eager to spend time with friends after the intense days of meetings. As we are preparing for this year’s Conference, I am constantly reminded of him. His name appears on almost every document, as he was always one of the first to volunteer for whatever task needed to be done. Since this tragic news went out to the IMAA members, I have been amazed at how many other people share similar stories. We have decided to share some of these memories and images with you as a way to commemorate Roberto’s exceptional life.

I would also like to direct you to these links below my message to some of the newspaper articles that have been published following his passing, in addition to the message from LIFT, the organization where Roberto worked. On behalf of the Board, Staff and all the members of the IMAA, I would like to extend my sympathies to all those who feel this tremendous loss, to Roberto’s family, friends and colleagues in Toronto and across Canada.  Roberto, I miss you already.

Jennifer Dorner

On Roberto Ariganello

I heard the sad news that Roberto Ariganello has passed away today, and felt a need to express my admiration for and thoughts on this wonderful man.

I did not know Roberto very well, but I knew him well enough to know what an incredibly giving and generous human being he was, with such a passion for the arts and filmmaking in particular. His generosity was of the spirit, but it was also very concrete and practical.

Roberto was kind to me as an individual, but he was especially kind to CineVic, the artist run film co-op I work for in Victoria BC. When he had heard we were having troubles a few years ago, he was full of good advice and worked with former executive director Erin Brown to try and

find solutions. When he and I met again at the last IMAA conference in St. Johns, he extended this hand to me, reassuring me about my abilities and the tasks ahead at a time I was just learning the ropes in a new position. Roberto went so far as to email me sections of LIFT’s past

grant applications so I could look at a successful model of application structure. And I didn’t even ask him for the help. He offered of his own time (and work) because he was a caring human being who wanted others to succeed as well.  More than anyone else outside our city Roberto had the best interests of our co-op, and how we could fit into the national film continuum that he loved so much, at heart. This is from a letter he wrote me earlier this year:

Hello Bryan ,

I hope you are well. I would like to offer my services if you are interested in applying for a Flying Squad grant. I am interested in helping Cinevic in any way possible… …Let me know what you think. We can discuss in greater detail the approach that I would take.

Kind regards,


Kind of says a lot about what kind of a person he was. It is an honour to have met him, and I regret not having gotten to know him better. On behalf of myself and CineVic: Society of Independent Filmmakers, I offer condolences to his family and friends. He will not be forgotten but certainly will be missed.

Sincerely, Bryan Skinner

Dear Walter, AFCOOP, Jennifer, coops everywhere, and especially the LIFT gang,

When I first read the story in the Halifax paper when no names were attached, I certainly never dreamed that this tragedy would strike so close to home.

Walter, thank you so much for introducing me to Roberto. I feel for all of you, his close friends and colleagues, as you try to make sense of this sudden sadness.

I have no words of wisdom to help put it in perspective except maybe one tiny, insignificant, and probably clichéd observation about the fragility of life taken on its individual basis, and its incredible, undeniable power when taken as a collectivity.  I join with your collectivity of grief and lend what I can in affirmation of Roberto’s amazing, giving life. An inspiration. His words at our roundtable Ottawa in June, especially concerning the concept of training as nurturing, and the importance of fostering emerging talent through professional development, and the role Canada Council and the NFB could both play in all this found their way immortalized into the final Strategy.

To Roberto and the most dearly bought Steenbeck in all the world!

Geoff Le Boutillier

Dear Roberto’s family and his many friends, LIFT Staff, Board and

Members, and IMAA-AAMI colleagues;

I was so sad to hear of Roberto’s passing.  He was such an influence for me and I always knew that if I needed an answer to a question I  had I could call him.  I’ve been the Operations Coordinator for the  Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers for four years and I can’t

even remember the first time I spoke to him: it seems like years and  it also doesn’t seem that long ago.  I do remember that from the  beginning, Roberto had much to teach me about being a tireless and  vocal advocate for artists and for film.  If you were feeling tired  or jaded about a lack of funding, you could call him up and he’d get you all riled up again and ready to keep on fighting.

When I visited Toronto in September 2004 I had called up Roberto to see if he had time to show me around LIFT when I was in town.  When I  arrived he was really busy but he made time for me and gave me an extensive tour of LIFT and then took me over to CFMDC.  It was clear

from his tour that he loved LIFT and cared about every inch of the place and cared for the people who worked and practiced their art there.  That he worked at a media arts centre for such a long time and that he always talked excitedly about its plans for the future…wow!  He was a special guy and from the tour he gave me, he showed me what a special place LIFT is, and CFMDC, too.  He was also really interested in what was happening at CSIF and at other centres around the country. I never felt that he was competitive, he was more of a collaborator that wanted good things to happen around the country.

One of the many accomplishments Roberto made was to ensure that filmmakers that practice at the media arts centres received an equivalent discount that students receive from Kodak.  Last

September, he successfully made the argument that filmmakers were learning their craft at the co-ops across the country and should be able to receive the same 20% discount that film students at universities and colleges received.  As many of you know, he could be so persuasive in so charming a fashion, that no one stood a chance of resisting if he wanted to convince you of something.  So many artists who never knew Roberto are benefiting from his work and will

continue to do so.

I have learned much from Roberto and am saddened to know that he is no longer going to be available to talk to on the phone or at conferences.  I do know that I will think of him every time I see a really cool film; every time I talk to a filmmaker that is passionate about what they do; and every time I think of Toronto and LIFT and the media arts centres there and realize how interconnected and strong the arts community is.

To all of you who knew Roberto well, my thoughts are with you. I hope that the many tributes and legacy projects will give you all some comfort in the days and years ahead.

Best wishes, Melody Jacobson

Operations Coordinator, The Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers


Prairie & Northwest Territories Region Director, Independent Media

Arts Alliance/Alliance des arts médiatiques independents (IMAA/AAMI)

Some of us have had the chance to meet Roberto through the AAMI, or while visiting our collegues in Toronto. Even if we don’t know him much, we know how active he was, we’ve felt the energy, the enthousiam that was inside of him. It’s so difficult to accept the sudden departure of someone like him. In the name of the board, the members and the staff of  Vidéographe, I would like to say our sympathies to all those who feel this loss and who are grieving him.


Marie-Dominique Bonmariage
Directrice générale, Vidéographe

I only knew Roberto as a close friend for the last 2 and a half years, though we struck an instant connection and shared a brotherly bond through our work as Ontario board members for the Independent Media Arts Alliance ( I will miss his infectious laughter, his sage advice, his leadership, his sense of purpose and justice, his barbecue cooking, his love of good tequila, his being-in-the-world — every little thing that defined his too-short, yet unbelievably full life.

He was the last person I spoke to on the phone before we left for our respective trips Tuesday morning, August 8 — he went east to NS, and I went west to BC.  And it’s hard to believe he is gone now, but only in the bodily sense — his influence will live on across this great country of ours through all of the people he impacted and inspired with his work, and in how he lived his life. With passion (!!), and with love…  Roberto, I miss you already and I will always remember you. May you be surrounded in as much love now as you brought to us while you were here.  Much love from your colleague and friend,

James Missen, Available Light screening collective, Ottawa