Biography

Jonathan is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and the son of the late Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash’s manager (Saul put Johnny together with June). His 2012 film about the stormy relationship between Cash and Holiff, My Father and The Man In Black, was released in select theatres in the United States and the United Kingdom, and on television around the world.

An intimate first-person expose, My Father and The Man In Black featured audio diaries and recorded telephone conversations with Cash and Holiff. The film, which The New York Times called “complex and haunting,” won nine film festival competitions, including Edinburgh and Hamburg. Jonathan also won the Orson Welles Award for Best New Director at the Tiburon International Film Festival.

In 2016, Jonathan donated his father’s memorabilia to the University of Victoria (Saul’s alma mater). In 2017, he contributed to the book The Man Who Carried Cash: Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash, and the Making of an American Icon (now also an audiobook). In 2018, UVic launched The Saul Holiff Archives with the exhibit, Volatile Attractions: Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash, and Managing a Music Legend. In 2019, the late Mr. Holiff received a nationally televised tribute on CBC’s Juno Awards.

Jonathan began his career at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. While working as a producer on the 1991 NHL Awards in Toronto, host Alan Thicke invited Jonathan to move to Los Angeles for the final season of ABC’s Growing Pains. This led to dual Canadian/American citizenship and television work on both sides of the border.

In 1996, Jonathan joined The Hollywood-Madison Group, a Los Angeles advertising and public relations consultancy specializing in celebrity endorsements. For more than a decade, he produced campaigns for top brands including Procter & Gamble, the Getty Museum, and Sony Corporation, featuring stars like Martin Scorsese, Dennis Hopper, and Diane Keaton.

A former panellist at film festivals, Jonathan also guest-lectured on “fair use in documentary storytelling” at Loyola Marymount University and the University of Southern California. Recently, during the pandemic, he hosted several Zoom events, including a movie screening and a virtual talk.

Jonathan is an advocate for the separation of church and state and is a member of Americans United and Centre for Inquiry Canada. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

To visit the Saul Holiff Archives at the University of Victoria, click here:
https://exhibits.library.uvic.ca/spotlight/holiff/about/about-the-exhibit