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John Howard Foote is a Canadian based film critic and former Director of the now closed Toronto Film School.


Early life

He was born in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada on May 21, 1959 to John and Dianne Foote. The eldest of four children his family relocated to Seagrave when Foote was four, and he was raised in the Port Perry area. At an early age his father introduced him to films and he was forever addicted. He recalls being put to bed at seven o'clock in the evening only to be roused at 11:25, shortly before the start of Fright Night Theatre on WKBW TV out of Buffalo in the sixties. He states that he became hooked forever on film while watching the Red Sea open in the 1956 film The Ten Commandments which he saw during a re-release in the early seventies. From that moment on "film became my heroin" he states. Foote would often spend weekends in Oshawa with his beloved grandparents, where he would bounce from theatre to threatre, often seing three films a day. When video burst onto the scene in the early eighties, it was uncommon to find him renting ten films at a time.

He would attend Port Perry High School, where under the guidance of Diane Kackie and John Crocker, he became interested in film and theatre. After graduation he would study film and theatre at Humber College where he became the first student to be permitted to direct one of the major Mainstage Theatre Productions. There he directed well received productions of Jitters, The Shadow Box and a workshop production of Bent.


Though he directed over forty plays in the years spanning 1980-1996, his first love remained cinema. He was artistic director of Theatre One for three years and in 1992 won a THEA Award for his direction of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, one of the many American post-war dramas he would direct in the years spanning 1988-1993. He felt theatre and film should be aboput something, disliking silly comedies, instead preferring intense dramatic work. Among the many plays he directed over this time period where The Glass Menagerie, Agnes of God, Picnic, The Passion of Dracula, Salt Water Moon, The Crucible (twice), The Shadow Box, Jitters, A Streetcar Named Desire, Torch Song Trilogy, and Equus. He had a strong reputation for being an actors' director and as such actors loved working with him.

In 1992, he was invited to be part of a new television program entitled Reel to Real, which he joined as co-host and co-producer. For nine years he and partner Christopher Heard were seen on the Rogers Network as the program gained an enormous following. The Glob and Mail hailed the pair as Canada's answer to Siskel and Ebert! Foote left the program in 1999 after a falling out with producers to pursue print criticism which is what he does to this day.

During his time on Reel to Real, he was contacted to teach film history at the Trebas Institute, a Toronto based career college offering programs in film and television. Education agreed with him and within three years he was running the Film Department as Director.

Recent career

After a violent car accident in 2000, which left him lingering between life and death, a long extended hospital stay he was removed from his position at Trebas by the owner and replaced. His massive injuries twice nearly claimed his life, but he recovered to deal with daily chronic pain.

At this time the Toronto Film School contacted him and offered him a job upon getting out of the hospital.

In 2001 he became Coordinator of the Film and Television Program at the Toronto Film School and two years later was promoted to Director of the Toronto Film School, a position he held until March of 2009. The college was closed by the owners, Career Education Corporation who had decided they wanted to withdraw from Canada and have colleges only in the United States and Europe. Though Foote tried with Rick Bennett to re-launch the college several times, in 2010 he finally recognized that the Toronto Film School, or whatever incarnation comes about, is dead.

In 2007 he was contracted by Greenwood Publishers in the United States to write a biography of director Clint Eastwood, due for publication in 2008. This will be followed by a second on Steven Spielberg due in 2010, both part of the Filmmaker Series being created by Greenwood. Neither book is a biography, but rather a study of their directing careers and the films they have directed. After writing those two books he will write his long cherished project about American cinema decade by decade, starting from the New Millenium and moving back to the silent period. In all there will be five volumes and Foote will handle half of the fifties and sixties, but all of the seventies, eighties, nineties and the new millenium. After completion of that series, expected in 2011, he will write Paul Thomas Anderson: American Cinema's Great Hope, Meryl Streep: The Greatest and John Wayne: The Great Performances.

In addition he joined the staff of the website as their Toronto International Film Festival critic, though he has since moved to The Awards Circuit (

His work as a critic continues as he writes syndicated for the Metroland Organization, Toronto Life and Fashion and has his own website, ( In addition he has written a biography of actor Robert Duvall which is awaiting publication.

He formally joined the staff of contributors (which consists of Editor Clayton Davis, Senior Staff Writers Joey Magidson, Keith Lucas, and Myles Hughes, and new Staff Writer Jackson Truax) to the popular American site The Awards Circuit ( on which he comments throughout the year on the Oscar race, past and present.

Over the course of his career as a film critic he has interviewed Robert Duvall, Meryl Streep, Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortenson, Sally Field, Tom Cruise, Helen Hunt, Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett, Paul Newman, Martin Scorsese, Francis and Sofia Coppola, Nicholas Cage, Sean Penn, Bruce Willis, Robert Carlyle, Jessica Lange, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Robert de Niro, Holly Hunter, Donald Sutherland, Quentin Tarantino, Charlize Theron, Amy Adams, John Boorman, Peter Jackson, Mickey Rourke, Johnny Depp, and the Coen Brothers to name a few.

Personal life

In 1990 he married Sherri Todd; they have been together for more than twenty years, and have two children together, Aurora, 17, and Ariana, 10. His wife Sherri was diagnosed recently with brain cancer and after the removal of a tumour, is being treated for such. Her courage is said to leave Foote in awe each and every day of their lives together.



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