Rex Tasker

Tasker, Rex – of Musquodoboit Harbour, died peacefully at his home on July 24, 2018. Rex was born at Hertford, England, in 1933, and grew up in Devonshire. After attending school in London he served his two years of national service with the Intelligence Corps in Germany and after demobilization studied film at the Heatherley School of Fine Arts (later known as the London Film School). He also participated in the free cinema movement which saw film as a stimulus for social change.

He married June Mary Hudgell in 1956 and in 1958 emigrated to Canada with a strong desire to work at the National Film Board of Canada, whose first commissioner had been John Grierson, one of the fathers of documentary film.

He worked at the National Film Board from 1960 until 1992 – the first 12 years at the Board’s headquarters in Montreal where he was a picture editor, researcher, writer, director and producer. The many films he worked on won over 40 major awards, including an Oscar nomination for “Helicopter Canada”, seven different awards, including one for editing “Fields of Sacrifice" and Moscow 1967 and Berlin 1968 awards for “The White Ship”, an International Labor Film Festival award for “Steeltown” and the 1971 Canadian Film Award for “The Oshawa Kid”. He personally rated "The White Ship" and "Steeltown" as his best films. During this period he also worked on a Challenge for Change project in Thunder Bay to establish community video production, and taught film at Stanford University, California; New York University, the University of Toledo, Ohio; and Florida State University.

In 1973 he and his then wife, Shelagh Mackenzie, came to Nova Scotia to set up the Film Board’s Atlantic Centre – the aim of which was to develop local filmmakers and film-making institutions. For this he was awarded, in 1980, the John Grierson Genie Award for “contribution to Canadian Film in the spirit and tradition of John Grierson”, and in 1987 the Atlantic Festival CBC Pioneer award for “contribution to film in Atlantic Canada”.   In 1982, the Rex Tasker award for “the best documentary film made in the region in the previous year” was established at the Annual Atlantic Film Festival. After retirement in 1992,  he worked on what he called “community videos” – small one-man productions – the  first looking at a successful fishing cooperative in Belize and then videos for organizations concerned with the deaf, blind and disabled in St. Lucia. Later on he made videos concerned with local Nova Scotia people and the history of the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia, where he had lived for over 40 years.


He is survived by his partner of over 30 years, Ria Hodgson (nee Berkelaar); and his daughter, Katharine Tasker, by his first marriage, of Northern France.

Cremation has taken place under the direction of Arimathea Funeral Cooperative, Upper Musquodoboit. An open house will be held for family and friends on Sunday, July 29th, from 1-4 p.m. at his beloved Clam Factory, 1134 Ostrea Lake Rd., Musquodoboit Harbour.

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