TRAGIC

01.21.12

Bingham Ray Suffers Stroke at Sundance Film Festival

Bingham Ray, a celebrated former studio head who helped foster the independent-film boom, suffered a stroke at the Sundance Film Festival, and is getting "very good care," according to his daughter.

Bingham Ray, a widely admired indie-film veteran and former studio head, suffered a stroke at the Sundance Film Festival this week and on Saturday was reported to be convalescing at a hospital in Provo, Utah. Ray's daughter told The Wrap that he had a mild stroke earlier in the week and then suffered a "more serious" stroke on Friday morning. Ray's daughter said he is getting "very good care."

The news registered with the strength of a bombshell in Park City, with many friends and confidants expressing horror upon hearing of Ray's medical condition.

The movie stalwart was named executive director of the San Francisco Film Society in October and from many years of attending the festival has become a cherished figure at Sundance. Ray famously cofounded October Films in 1991, a seminal indie distributor that released a number of acclaimed and Oscar-nominated movies including Secrets & Lies, Celebration, Breaking the Waves, and Lost Highway.

Having begun his career in moviedom as a projectionist for New York's Bleecker Street Theater in 1981, Ray went on to become president of United Artists and worked at Sidney Kimmel Entertainment. More recently, he worked as a consultant to Snag Pictures, a digital distribution company, and as an adjunct professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

Ray famously cofounded October Films in 1991, a seminal indie distributor that released a number of acclaimed and Oscar-nominated movies.

"He's unique within the film world," San Francisco Film Society board co–vice president Jen Chaiken told SF Gate in October. "He brings working knowledge of so many aspects of the film world. It's pretty rare that somebody had their own studio and worked in distribution but has also been a studio executive in L.A."