Helmer founded groundbreaking film production firm

Gary Winick, the Gotham-based director of “Letters to Juliet,” “Bride Wars” and “13 Going on 30,” died Sunday after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 49.

Winick had been dealing with the disease for more than two years, directing “Juliet” after his first surgery and treatments.

Though he helmed other studio fare such as Paramount’s “Charlotte’s Web,” Winick was a Sundance regular and champion for independent film, co-founding New York-based independent shingle InDigEnt in 1999 to focus on digitally shot features. One such title was 2002’s “Tadpole,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Best Director Award for Winick (as well as a $6 million pickup from Miramax).

No stranger to kudos, Winick also won the 2003 Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award for producing “Personal Velocity.” He also produced “November,” which premiered at Sundance in 2004 and won the festival’s cinematography award.

“The Tic Code,” which he directed, won the Glass Bear for best children’s film at the 1999 Berlin Film Festival; and he produced 2003’s “Pieces of April,” for which Patricia Clarkson was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar.

His television directing credits included episodes of “Ugly Betty” and “Lipstick Jungle.”

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