John Feeney

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For other people named John Feeney, see John Feeney (disambiguation).

John Feeney (10 August 1922 – 6 December 2006) was a New Zealand-born director of documentary films. He worked with the New Zealand National Film Unit, National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and made films and did photography in Egypt. He was nominated for two Academy Awards.

Early life[edit]

Feeney was born in Ngaruawahia and attended at Victoria University. During the Second World War he served as a lieutenant in the Royal New Zealand Naval Reserve, escaping from Singapore and taking part in the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944. He then served as a research assistant with the War History Branch of the Navy Department in Wellington until 1948.

New Zealand National Film Unit[edit]

His New Zealand film credits include Legend of the Wanganui River and Hot Earth.


Feeney directed ten NFB productions 1954 to 1963, working most often with producer Tom Daly. Most of his NFB films focused on the Canadian Arctic and the Inuit.

In 1958, Feeney received his first nomination for an Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject for The Living Stone, about Inuit carving.[1]

In 1964, he was nominated again, for Eskimo Artist: Kenojuak (1963), a groundbreaking look at the work of Inuit graphic artist Kenojuak Ashevak.[2] Regarding the use of the term "Eskimo" in the title, Feeney wrote in 1993 that he had suggested using the now-accepted term "Inuit" in the film, but had been told that it would be confusing for non-Inuit audiences of the day.

Eskimo Artist: Kenojuak found new life again in 1992, when filmmakers Colin Low and Tony Ianzelo combined archival and contemporary footage of Kenojuak in Momentum, Canada’s IMAX HD film for Expo '92. [3]


After Canada, he spend much of his life in Egypt, making films and photographing. He first arrived in Egypt in 1963 to make the documentary Fountains of the Sun, at the request of that country's ministry of culture. [4]

His photography is collected in his book Photographing Egypt: Forty Years Behind the Lens, published by The American University in Cairo Press.

External links[edit]