Tonight’s Sundance Film Festival awards ceremony will feature a tribute for Bingham Ray, whose abrupt passing took all the joy out of Sundance for so many in the independent sphere who treasured him, and for journalists who admired his sharp wit and his love for indie film. In the meantime, we present a lovely video tribute sent to us by documentary filmmaker R.J. Cutler, who in under four minutes captured the spirit of Ray and why he and his peers work so hard to launch artistic voices and struggle to bring worthy independent films to the limelight. Sometimes, that dogged effort and faith in an unsung filmmaker or an out of left field film pays off in the most incredible ways.
“Like so many others,” Cutler wrote me, “I was deeply affected by the loss of Bingham Ray. Bingham and his team at October Films distributed my first film (The War Room) and he was very much a mentor to me, showing me the ropes of independent film distribution, taking me under his wing on the festival circuit, and being a friend to me in many ways over the years. When the news of Bingham’s passing came this week I dug up a four-minute piece that Paco de Onis and I made about Bingham in 1996. It features footage of Bingham and the gang at October receiving the news that Secrets and Lies was nominated for an Oscar.”