Indie Film World Mourns the Passing of Bingham Ray

On January 23rd 2012, word traveled from the Sundance Film Festival that a champion of independent filmmaking, Bingham Ray, had died.

Bingham was a familiar face to anyone on the festival circuit. He was the co-founder of October Films - where many indie films found a home in the 1990s - and had recently assumed the role of executive director of the San Francisco Film Society.

Bingham suffered a stroke on Thursday January 19th and was hospitalized in Park City, Utah where he was to attend the Sundance Film Festival. A second stroke followed and Bingham Ray, 57, died in Provo on January 23rd.

Although I never had a film released by Bingham, I saw him on numerous panels and we reconnected at festivals around the US and Canada. He was a magnetic figure - a key part of the world we indie filmmakers constructed for ourselves - radiating energy and self-assurance.

Bingham's sudden passing reminds me of how fragile this life is - and of how lucky I've been to have shared a life in indie film with great people like Bingham (and the others in the video at the top of this post - where Bingham speaks at the end in a way that I find comforting tonight).

Indie filmmakers who can trace our roots back to the 1980s are a small and passionate group. We are all in mourning tonight - feeling Bingham's loss in many ways - some personal - but others shared like a disturbance in the non-mainstream force.

He will be missed.

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