A longtime film teacher who died earlier this month after a long battle with cancer is remembered for his passion for film and for sharing that passion with students during a teaching career. which lasted for decades.
Howard Curle died on August 12, at age 74, after living with multiple myeloma for nearly four years, an obituary published Saturday in the Winnipeg Free Press said.
Curle began teaching regularly at the University of Manitoba in 1990, and in 2005 he moved to the University of Winnipeg, where he taught until his retirement in 2019, according to his obituary.
Bev Phillips, Curle’s wife of 32 years, says what she will remember most about her husband is his kindness, gentleness and enthusiasm for life.
As a teacher, Curle accepted everyone for who they were and was excited when his students progressed, no matter how small.
“He always enjoyed seeing others around him improve, and I think that’s a good lesson for all of us to learn,” Phillips said.
Being engaged in life was most important to him and he never got tired of learning new things, she said.
Her husband had a keen interest in movies as a teenager, but took that interest much further than most, Phillips said. He carefully studied not only the history of cinema, but also its technical and theoretical aspects, and could discuss films from all different angles and points of view, she said.
Howard was just a wonderful friend, husband, uncle, and just a really good, kind, sweet person. I think he would be happy to be remembered that way.– Bev Phillips, wife of Howard Curle
Curle was also a caring husband, generous with his time, thoughts and expertise, she said.
“When he wasn’t working, Howard was just a wonderful friend, husband, uncle, and just a really good, kind, sweet person.
“I think he would be happy to be remembered that way.”
George Toles, now Distinguished Professor of Film and Literature at the University of Manitoba, met Curle there in 1976, when Toles was an assistant professor teaching in the film studies program and Curle was an undergraduate student taking Classes.
“Someone said Howard had all the kindness in the world in his eyes,” Toles told CBC News in a phone interview on Saturday.
“I thought, ‘If there are more people like that in Winnipeg, that’s going to be fine for me.'”
Curle had an extraordinarily caring heart, Toles said, and would go to any lengths imaginable to ensure his students were successful. Curle and his wife were hugely supportive of the local arts community and were “invariably curious,” Toles said.
“He was someone who was instantly able to get excited about any artistic subject that anyone who met him brought up – no matter how eccentric and wacky,” Toles said. “He just lit up…with such engaging curiosity and extraordinary listening.”
During his years teaching at the University of Manitoba, Toles said Curle would take new film courses that no one else wanted to teach, leading him to in-depth research topics such as Serbian documentarians, African filmmakers and the experimental films of the 1950s.
“Whatever the subject, Howard said yes,” Toles said, and was “a person who showed you every time you met him why art and engagement with the world, and caring of the world, were important. This is his legacy.”
Thomas Pashko, now editor of Uniter, the University of Winnipeg’s community newspaper, took many courses with Curle and worked as his teaching assistant.
“He taught me so much about Winnipeg, film and so much more,” Pashko wrote in an email to CBC. “I’m sure he had similar impacts on so many people’s lives without even knowing it.”
“A true love of cinema”
Curle was also involved with the Winnipeg Film Group and appeared in numerous films by local filmmakers, as well as dozens of films made by his University of Winnipeg students.
“All who knew Howard remember his gentle nature and genuine love of filmmaking. He was dedicated to teaching and encouraging young filmmakers,” said the Winnipeg Film Group. said in a post on its website Thursday.
Kevin Nikkel, a filmmaker and member of the Winnipeg Film Group, says his friendship with Curle began while they were queuing at the Cinematheque, the Exchange District film group’s arthouse cinema.
The two often found themselves watching the same movies over the years, he said in a phone interview with CBC News.
Nikkel recalled that not too long ago he and Curle bumped into each other outside the Cinematheque, where Curle was adamant that Nikkel would watch the South Korean film. Parasite — which won the 2020 Best Picture Oscar — so they can chat about it.
The memento is an example of the depth with which Curle was plugged into current trends in filmmaking after his retirement from teaching, Nikkel said.
“With Howard’s passing, it’s all the more important for us to make sure we watch over the Knowledge Keepers,” he said, adding that as a filmmaker he enjoyed Curle’s role. as a film historian and critic.
“We need to make sure the knowledge these wise souls have is captured and documented before they pass away because Howard had such a broad understanding of what was going on locally.”
Curle’s love of filmmaking showed Nikkel that people should strive to be passionate about what they love most, he said.
“For Howard, it was cinema.”