John Refoua, ‘Avatar’ Series Film Editor, Dies at 58

John Refoua, the Oscar-nominated film editor who worked on both “Avatar” and “Avatar: The Way of Water,” died Sunday from complications related to bile cancer. He was 58.

Refoua’s career as an editor reached new heights with the success of 2009’s “Avatar.” Working alongside Stephen East, the pair were nominated for the best achievement in film edited at the Academy Awards in 2010.

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After “Avatar,” Refoua returned to edit on the film’s 2022 sequel, “Avatar: The Way of Water.” In years between, Refoua credits included “Transformers: The Last Knight” and “Geostorm,” as well as television series “Touched by an Angel,” “Law & Order,” “New York Undercover,” “Dark Angel” and “CSI: Miami.”

In the spring of 2022, Refoua was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, an infrequent form of bile duct cancer. He continued to contribute to editing director James Cameron’s third “Avatar” entry up to his final weeks of life, his wife Serena Refoua confirmed. The film is set to release at the end of 2024.

“My brilliant, sweet, creative husband John Djahanshah Refoua passed away on May 14 surrounded by family and friends who loved him,” Serena shared in a statement. “Despite the pain and complexities of this aggressive disease, he faced it with courage and grit… His life’s trajectory was quite unique and anything he touched, he made better.”

Refoua was a 2010 Critics Choice Award winner for best editing for “Avatar.” He was also a member of the American Cinema Editors organization.

Refoua is survived by his wife, Serena; and his granddaughter, Avery Sophia.

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