He worked frequently with James Cameron and Antoine Fuqua, and his credits include such films as The Magnificent Seven and Transformers: The Last Knight. Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water editor John Refoua, who was nominated for an Academy Award, has passed away. He was 58. Serena Bell Refoua, Refoua’s wife, announced his death on Facebook, writing that he had been suffering from problems related to a rare form of bile duct cancer called cholangiocarcinoma since early 2022.
“Despite the pain and complexities of this aggressive disease, he faced it with courage and grit,” Bell Refoua wrote. “He continued to work and edit on James Cameron’s Avatar 3 right up to his final weeks. His life’s trajectory was quite unique and anything he touched, he made better.”
Refoua is a seasoned editor who has worked with Cameron on multiple projects, including the Avatar films, the Fox science fiction series Dark Angel, and the Titanic documentary Ghosts of the Abyss.
Oscar nominees for best achievement in cinema editing in 2010 included Refoua, Cameron, and Stephen E. Rivkin for their work on Avatar. Refoua stated in an interview with Cine Montage in 2010 that Cameron contacted him in early 2007 to assist with Avatar for a period of a few weeks. The editor spent more than two years on the ground-breaking effort.
Tweet Related to his Death:
John Refoua, Editor on ‘Avatar’ Films, Dies at 58 https://t.co/rpAUGb2S5p
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 17, 2023
The technical difficulties presented by Avatar’s post-production had the editing staff learn on the job. All of us were thinking, “How can we make this movie make sense?” How should we proceed most effectively? Refoua explained to Cine Montage that “there were no set procedures, so we were discovering things as we were going along.”
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For Avatar: The Way of Water, due out in 2022, Cameron, Refoua, and Rivkin would reconvene, with the late David Brenner serving as a fourth editor on yet another large, technically demanding project. The next Avatar 3 will feature Refoua’s artwork as well. Refoua is Antoine Fuqua’s go-to stunt coordinator, having worked on four consecutive films with the director (Olympus Has Fallen (2013), The Equalizer (2014), Southpaw (2015), and Sony’s massive budget remake of The Magnificent Seven (2016)).
Refoua, who entered the television editing industry in the early 1990s, was born in New York in 1964. Before his extended stint on Fox’s criminal thriller New York Undercover, he edited episodes of shows including Law & Order, Ally McBeal, and Touched By an Angel. Refoua edited or co-edited 16 episodes of the Jessica Alba-starring Cameron series Dark Angel from 2000 to 2002.
Aside from CSI: Miami and Reno 911! he has appeared in numerous episodes of other shows. As well as working with Cameron and Fuqua, Refoua has edited Reno 911! : Miami (2007), Balls of Fury (2007), 21 & Over (2013), Geostorm (2017), and Transformers: The Last Knight (2017).