Bingham Ray – 1954-2012

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  • Scottferguson
    Participant
    Joined:
    Sep 26th, 2011
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #52696

    This news is shocking the entire independent film community. I personally am in shock – the word I had been getting from people close to him was that he was stable and conscious.

    I knew him since the early 1980s, shared many great moments with him. Although others perhaps are better known in the indie community, no one was as loved.



     

    FOR
    IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    ·
    JANUARY 23, 2012
    Media Contact: Hilary Hart
    ·
    415.561.5022
    · hilary@sffs.org  


    BINGHAM
    RAY (1954 – 2012)
     

    San
    Francisco, CA — The San Francisco Film
    Society
    regrets to announce that Executive Director
    Bingham
    Ray
    passed away on January 23 while attending the 2012 Sundance
    Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
     

    Bingham
    Ray

    Photo
    by Michael Rauner

    “The
    board of directors and staff of the Film Society are stunned and deeply saddened
    by the untimely death of our executive director Bingham Ray. We at the Film
    Society and the entire film community have lost far too early an energetic and
    visionary impact player who has helped shape the independent film industry for
    decades in so many important and valuable ways,” said Pat McBaine, SFFS board
    president. “He shall be dearly missed. Our deepest sympathies and condolences go
    out to Bingham’s family and his legions of friends and colleagues all over the
    world who loved and respected him.”
     

    Ray
    brought his well-developed creative and business acumen to the running,
    reimagining and reinvigorating of a major nonprofit arts organization. Since
    taking the helm on November 7, 2011 he oversaw and crafted a cohesive plan to
    strengthen the Film Society’s exhibition, education and filmmakers services
    programs, including its most successful fall season to date; addressed the
    strenuous financial concerns facing nonprofit arts organizations today; focused
    particular attention on the operation of SF Film Society Cinema; connected to
    the local education community; broadened the outreach and impact of the project
    development and grants programs; and was well into plans for the 55th San
    Francisco International Film Festival.
     

    He
    immediately became a part of the SF film world, hosting a reception at Tosca
    Café to introduce himself to the community; a special screening of California State of Mind: The Legacy
    of Pat Brown
    , attended by Governor Jerry Brown and his wife Anne
    Gust; and a preview of Pina with his old friend
    Wim Wenders, attended by Francis and Eleanor Coppola, Les Blank, Phil Kaufman
    and Tom Luddy.
     

    “When
    Bingham took the job, we were ecstatic,” said SFFS board co-vice president and
    film producer Jen Chaiken. “It was an enormous vote of confidence for the
    organization that he was compelled to uproot his life to come run the Film
    Society. Bingham felt this job honored and tapped into the experience he’d
    garnered over the past 30 years. Bingham was one of those rare few who everyone
    knew on a first name only basis. He was one of a kind and will be deeply, deeply
    missed.”
     

    Ray
    came to the San Francisco Film Society from New York City, where he recently
    served as the first run programming consultant to the Film Society of Lincoln
    Center, executive consultant to the digital distribution company SnagFilms and
    adjunct professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

    Ray
    cofounded October Films in 1991 and served as its copresident until its sale to
    USA Networks in 1999. October was one of the foremost independent film companies
    of the 1990s, winning two Oscars and garnering 13 Oscar nominations and top
    prizes at the Cannes Film Festival on three occasions. Some of October Films’
    credits include the internationally acclaimed Secrets & Lies,
    The Apostle,
    Cookie’s
    Fortune
    , The
    Celebration
    , Lost Highway, The Last Seduction and
    Breaking the
    Waves
    .

    In
    September 2001, Ray assumed the post of president of United Artists. During his
    tenure at UA, the company acquired and/or produced many highly acclaimed films
    such as No Man’s
    Land
    , winner of the 2001 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language
    Film, Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine,
    winner of the 2002 Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary and the 2004
    Academy Award-nominated Hotel Rwanda. Other
    United Artists films successfully released during Ray’s tenure include Jeepers Creepers 1 &
    2
    , Nicholas
    Nickleby
    , Ghost World, Igby Goes Down and
    Pieces of
    April
    .

    In
    2007 Ray joined the Los Angeles-based production company Sidney Kimmel
    Entertainment and held two posts during his three-year tenure, president of
    Kimmel Distribution and president of creative affairs. In the first post Ray
    supervised all marketing and distribution plans for the original Death at a Funeral,
    Talk to Me,
    Lars and the Real
    Girl
    and Synecdoche, N.Y., among
    others. In the latter he was responsible for the development and production
    activities of the remake of Death at a Funeral, as
    well as supervising the development of a seven-film production
    slate.

    Bingham
    Ray began his career in 1981 as manager/programmer of the Bleecker Street
    Cinema. He has been on the juries of the Sundance Film Festival, Rotterdam Film
    Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival and the Film Independent Spirit Awards. He has
    lectured on film production and development at the City College of New York’s
    Graduate Film School, Columbia University and New York University.

    Ray
    is survived by his wife Nancy King, their children Nick, Annabel and Becca, and
    his sisters Susan Clair and Deb Pope.

    Reply
    babypook
    Participant
    Joined:
    Nov 4th, 2010
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #52698

    I was just reading about him. Terrible news. He was such a respected champion of Independent films.

    RIP

    ReplyCopy URL
    Scottferguson
    Participant
    Joined:
    Sep 26th, 2011
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #52699

    He was that, but also a life force beyond belief. He cared for his films and filmmakers as much as anyone I’ve ever seen in the business.

    The night of his greatest professional triumph – when October Films won both the Palme D’or and the Grand Prix (for Secrets and Lies and Breaking the Waves). I walked back to my hotel with him near dawn after a night of celebrating (which of course had been boistrous). What was memorable was how quiet he was, proud to be sure, happy, but mostly stunned and humbled about the difference he had made. It was a cherished moment for me since, and is always the way I will remember him.

    He and his wife named their first child Nick (Nicholas Ray that is) to honor of that great director. But he himself made an equally great name and reputation.

    It has become tough for people like him to survive in today’s media/Oscar/big business/huge money business. But perhaps he will more than ever serve as a beacon for those who still would like to emulate him.

    ReplyCopy URL
    babypook
    Participant
    Joined:
    Nov 4th, 2010
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #52700

    Agreed. I’ve been a subscriber to Indie Films and his work was tireless and committed. He was so young. Very sad indeed, and casting such a pall on the community.

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