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Passings: Gordon Hitchens, Arthur Holch, Marshall Flaum

By Tom White

The motion picture world has witnessed many passings of late, as has the documentary world, which lost three individuals who quietly made a difference in making this world better.

Gordon R. Hitchens, a noted international film journalist and founding editor of Film Comment magazine, passed away on Saturday, August 7, at the Carillon Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Huntington Long Island. He was 85 years old.



Gordon Hitchens began his studies at Columbia University, where he received his bachelor's degree in English Literature and two graduate degrees, one in cinematography and the other in journalism. For his master's thesis in cinematography he co-produced and co-directed the film Sunday on the River, which won several awards for its portrayal, in documentary form, of parishioners from a church in Harlem on their Sunday outing on the Hudson River.

Hitchens went on to earn renown as a documentary film journalist and jurist, covering international film festivals in Berlin, Moscow, Nyon and Yamagata, among others, over his 30- year career. As an American organizer and assistant, he helped many aspiring filmmakers submit their documentaries to film festivals abroad, including films by some who were blacklisted in the US. In 1962, he founded Film Comment, a film opinion magazine, of which he was the editor until 1970. Film Comment is currently published by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. In addition to his film festival and journalistic work, Hitchens also taught film studies courses at the School of Visual Arts, Hofstra University, NYU, Adelphi University, City University, Pratt Institute, the New School, and he retired as Associate Professor of Film Studies at CW Post College in Long Island in 1990. Over the years, he was a stringer for the weekly edition of Variety Magazine, and wrote articles for the New York Times, Documentary and Film Culture as well.

As editor of Documentary magazine since 2000, I had the pleasure of working with Gordon in the early part of my tenure, until he became ill in the early-to-mid 2000s. He had a longer history with one of my predecessors, Tim Lyons, and Gordon was kind enough to write a tribute to Tim when he succumbed to cancer in 2001.
Gordon had strong relationships with the Berlin and Yamagata Film Festivals, and I was grateful for his dispatches from there. I think that filmmakers and cineastes alike owe him a debt of gratitude for having founded Film Comment, one of the more distinguished periodicals devoted to cinema.
Above all, he lived a rich and rewarding life.

He is survived by his daughter, Janine H. Parker, and son Laurence Hitchens, as well as his four grandchildren, and son-in-law Robert Parker and daughter-in-law Lauri Carluccio Hitchens. His half-brother, Michael Hitchens, is a video-journalist with the United States Air Force in Los Angeles, California.

A Memorial Reception honoring the life and work of Mr. Hitchens is planned for Thursday October 14th from 8:00 to 10:00 pm at the Freida and Roy Furman Gallery in the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, in Manhattan. Interested colleagues and friends are welcome to attend.

Charitable donations in Mr. Hitchens' memory can be made to PBS, or Human Rights Watch. For more information go to


Arthur E. Holch Jr., an Emmy Award-winning television documentarian whose work at midcentury and afterward tackled charged subjects like race relations, Nazism and Communism, died September 28 in Greenwich, Conn. He was 86.



According to The New York Times, Holch earned an Emmy nomination for writing the 1961 documentary Walk in my Shoes, a study of race in America from the perspective of African-American interviewed for the film. He later won a News & Documentary Emmy in 1992 for Heil Hitler! Confessions of a Hitler Youth, a half-hour documentary he produced and directed.

Holch began his career as a reporter, having graduated from the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism. He worked in radio and television before his own company. Other documentaries he wrote, produced and directed for television include The Beautiful Blue and Red Danube (1967) and Cuba: The Castro Generation (1977).

Holch is survived by his wife, the former Ellen O'Keefe Hare; three sons, Gregory, Christopher and Jeremy; four daughters, Hilary O'Neill, Milissa Laurence, Meredith Holch and Allegra Holch; and seven grandchildren.

Marshall Flaum, whose 55-year career began under the aegis of first Walter Cronkite, then  David L. Wolper, died Oct. 1 in Los Angeles. He was 85.


Marshall Flaum (left) with Jacques Cousteau.



According to The New York Times, Flaum earned Academy Award nominations for et My People Go: The Story of Israel (1965), which traced the Jewish diaspora from 1917 to 1948, and The Yanks Are Coming (1963), which told the story of America's entry into World War I.

Flaum also earned five Emmys-two for episodes of The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau in 1972; and one for Jane Goodall and the World of Animal Behavior: The Wild Dogs of Africa (1973).  Earlier in his career, he won two Emmys for writing for the CBS documentary series The Twentieth Century, hosted by Walter Cronkite. Flaum joined the Wolper Organization in 1962.

He was nominated for other Emmys, and won awards at various film festivals.

Flaum is survived by his wife, the former Gita Miller; his daughter, Erica, and his son, Seth, both film editors; his sister, June Flaum Singer; and two grandchildren.