John Refoua, Oscar-Nominated ‘Avatar’ Film Editor, Dies at 58

Refoua’s credits also include “Olympus Has Fallen” and “Avatar 2”

John Refoua
John Refoua (Getty Images)

John Refoua, a prolific film editor best know for his work on James Cameron’s “Avatar,” for which he received an Oscar nomination, died on Sunday following a 14-month battle with cancer. He was 58 years old.

His wife, Serena, made the news public on Monday.

“Dear friends, my brilliant, sweet, creative husband John Djahanshah Refoua passed away last night May 14 surrounded by family and friends who loved him. He was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare bile duct cancer, 15 months ago,” she wrote on Facebook.

“Despite the pain and complexities of this aggressive disease, he faced it with courage and grit. 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. He loved music, movies, politics, traveling, vintage cars, science fiction, and his 4 year old granddaughter Avery Sophia,” the statement concluded.

A celebration of Refoua’s life will be announced at a later date. His family is encouraging people to make donations to the Cholangiocarcinoma foundation in lieu of flowers.

Born in New York City in 1964, Refoua started his career in television, with his first credits on David Lynch’s groundbreaking “Twin Peaks.” Among his film credits, he worked on “Reno 911!: Miami” (2007), “Balls of Fury” (2007), ” “Olympus Has Fallen” (2013), “The Magnificent Seven” (2016) and both “Avatar 2: The Way of Water,” and the upcoming “Avatar 3.”

Refoua was nominated for Best Editing at the 2010 Academy Awards, alongside James Cameron and  and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle for his work on “Avatar.”