Sony Pictures Classics at 20

In 1996, Marcie Bloom, co-founder and co-president of Sony Pictures Classics and one of best-loved figures on the international festival circuit, returned from yet another foreign trip with a splitting headache.

“It felt like there was a little man behind my eye, squeezing it like a Nerf ball,” she recalls. She collapsed in the nurse’s office at Sony with a massive cerebral hemorrhage. When she woke from her coma five weeks later, she was partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, but cognitively intact.

Returning to work, however, proved a step too far. She tried going to the office one day a week, but found it too stressful and exhausting. The road to recovery has been long and slow.

“It’s been very depressing,” she admits. “For many years, I just wanted to call Dr. Kevorkian. But with special therapy, my voice has gotten progressively stronger, and I can walk a bit now with a walker, though my left side is still paralyzed and I have memory issues.”

She stays in close touch with her friends and colleagues at Sony Classics, reading scripts and offering insight when asked. “I speak to Michael (Barker) six times a day, on phone or email,” she says. “I’m very much aware of what the company is up to. My own sense is that I’m sick and don’t really work any more, but Michael and Tom still refer to me as their partner.”

It’s a sign of both Bloom’s importance to the history of SPC and the loyalty of Barker and Bernard that the company’s website still lists her as co-president.

Amid her many relationships with international filmmakers, the closest remains that with Pedro Almodovar. His 2002 film “Talk to Her” was partly inspired by her illness. “He was very keen to know what I thought of it. He was worried I might be hurt or angry. But I found it tender, sympathetic and even romantic,” she says. “I can think of worse things than being Pedro’s muse.”

In 2007, she launched her own foundation, in tandem with Independent Feature Project, to mentor four students a year. She hosts a monthly salon at her Upper West Side apartment to introduce them to filmmakers and industry execs. “It keeps me in touch, and it’s a way of giving back,” she says.

In November, New York Women in Film & TV honored Bloom with its Muse Award. “It’s very gratifying that people remember me,” she says.

SONY PICTURES CLASSICS AT 20
Steady as she grows | Shrewd handling yields real profits | SPC mines foreign gold | Despite illness’ gloom, Bloom integral to company
The Stories Behind the Movies
“Capote” | “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” | “The Fog Of War” | “The Lives of Others” | “Rachel Getting Married” | “Run Lola Run”
The Collaborators
Pedro Almodovar | Lone Scherfig

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