Paul Saltzman is a two-time Canadian Emmy Award-winning film and television producer-director with more than 300 films, both dramas and documentaries, to his credit. The 2008 documentary feature, Prom Night in Mississippi, featuring actor Morgan Freeman, premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. His most recent film, the feature documentary, The Last White Knight—Is Reconciliation Possible? premiered at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2012. It features Morgan Freeman, Harry Belafonte, Delay de la Beckwith (son of Byron De La Beckwith) as well as Saltzman himself. He is also founder, CEO and president of the charitable, non-profit organization Moving Beyond Prejudice, which works with students, educators, youth-at-risk and community groups.
He was born in 1943 the son of Percy Saltzman, Canada’s first TV weatherman, and Rose Cohen. After briefly studying mathematics and science, he did congressional civil rights lobbying in Washington, D.C., and in the summer of 1965 he did voter registration work in Mississippi as part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which would later lead him to go back to the area to explore the concept of prejudice and racism with his first documentary feature film, Prom Night in Mississippi. He lives in the Toronto area, and has one daughter, a writer and literary curator, Devyani Saltzman. His partner is Anne Peace, a writer and joyologist.
In 1968, at the age of 23, he traveled to India for the first time as sound engineer on the National Film Board of Canada's Juggernaut documentary. He had studied meditation to recover after his girlfriend had broken up with him, by mail. He learned meditation at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in the holy city of Rishikesh, India, and was invited by The Beatles, who coincidentally were visiting the ashram, to join them. While there, he spent time with and photographed the Beatles. His dozens of photos have been judged “some of the best intimate shots” ever taken of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, and have been seen in galleries worldwide. A permanent exhibition of The Beatles in India photographs can be seen above the retail units in the departure lounge of Liverpool John Lennon Airport.
In 2000, Saltzman released a book of his photographs, The Beatles in Rishikesh, with Penguin-Putnam; and in 2006 he self-published a deluxe limited edition box set, The Beatles in India.
One of the most memorable things Saltzman absorbed during his conversations and life-changing stay with The Beatles, were George Harrison's words: "Like we're The Beatles, after all, aren't we? We have all the money you could ever dream of, we have all the fame you could ever wish for. But it isn't love. It isn't health. It isn't peace inside, is it?"
Saltzman has been to India over 55 times. He led special tours of India in 2013 and 2014, and will again in 2015. Called 'India with Paul Saltzman: A Fusion of Colour, Music & Soul', to share his love of and favourite places in India. Included is how India impacted and enlightened The Beatles, and led to the group's single most creative musical period.
Film and TV career
Saltzman began his film and television career at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a researcher, interviewer and on-air host, and then moved to the National Film Board of Canada. He assisted in the launch of a new film format as second-unit director and production manager of the first IMAX film, produced for the Osaka 1970 World's Fair. In 1972, he produced and directed his first film, a half-hour documentary on Bo Diddley.
In 1973, Saltzman founded Sunrise Films Limited. He produced and directed documentaries for the next decade, including the award-winning series Spread Your Wings. His work included producing, directing, writing, editing, cinematography and sound recording. In 1983, he turned to drama, producing and directing the premiere of HBO's Family Playhouse and a special for American Playhouse. That year, he co-created and produced the family action-adventure television series Danger Bay; the hit CBC-Disney Channel series ran for six years and 123 episodes.
Since then he has produced television series such as My Secret Identity, Matrix and Max Glick, as well as miniseries and movies of the week. He co-produced the feature film Map of the Human Heart, an international epic directed by Vincent Ward, starring Jason Scott Lee, Anne Parillaud, Patrick Bergin, John Cusack and Jean Moreau. He also executive produced Martha, Ruth & Edie as well as Sam & Me, which received an Honorable Mention in competition for the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
- Prom Night In Mississippi website
- The Last White Knight at the Internet Movie Database
- CBC News, Jan 17 2007
- BBC News story on London gallery show.
- "Iconic Art Joins Arrivals at John Lennon Airport". Liverpool Daily Post. 20 November 2007. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
- Calcutta Telegraph, “Long and Winding Road to Rishikesh,” March 27, 2005
- Calcutta Telegraph, Calcutta, India, March 27, 2005.
- http://www.bestway.com/itineraries/beatles_india.php The Beatles In India Tour, Bestway Tours and Safaris website.
- Prom Night In Mississippi film website