You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bizzers gather to remember Bingham Ray

Impromptu Sundance gathering draws tears, stories

Bingham Ray dies at 57

As bizzers gathered Monday at the Sundance Film Festival to honor Bingham Ray, none could easily come to terms with the fact that the indie world had lost a fierce protector of independent filmmakers.

Just a few hours after word spread that Ray had died from a stroke, industryites gathered in the cozy, dark wood-paneled High West Distillery on Main Street to raise a glass to his memory.

“Bingham was the heart and soul of the whole independent movement of which all of us were a part,” said FilmDistrict’s Jeannie Berney.

Several hundred attendees dried their eyes, sipped on house whiskey and wine and began to come to terms with Ray’s death.

“He was my role model. I would see him at film festivals, at Cannes. We would hang out,” said filmmaker Ron Mann, struggling for a moment with emotion.

John Schmidt, a 20-year business partner who was with Ray’s family in the days after he fell ill, was unable to attend the impromptu gathering, but spoke to Variety about his friend.

“He had a profound impact, both in the sense of accomplishing things through business means, but also through what he stood for,” Schmidt said. “He loved film, he knew it in encyclopedically, and he reflected that in how he did his work.”

Bizzers told many stories, reflecting his passion, humor and pugnacity: Acting as a Neal Cassady-esque figure with a 45-minute monologue on the company bus to a Neil Young concert during “Year of the Horse”; diving across the October Films conference table to land a perfect face-plant in his birthday cake; climbing over theater seats in Cannes to mix it up with Harvey Weinstein and calling him “a fat fuck” in a very loud voice; sitting through a 10-hour screening of Lars von Trier’s “The Kingdom” and buying it on the spot; and immortalizing certain colleagues with his impromptu song lyrics.

But the most common thread was how he fought tirelessly for the movies he loved so much.

“The thing about Bingham was that he was a ferocious protector of independent films,” Berney said. “He would go to great lengths to bring a movie to the marketplace.”

“I think his memory is going to live on for a very very long time,” said Danny Rosett, now a consultant, who worked with Ray when he ran United Artists. “He was as much an icon of this festival as anybody was. It’s some source of comfort that all of us could be together at a time like this, at the festival, in hope that we can carry on in his tradition.”

More Film

  • Mara Watkins Nabhaan Rizwan Steven Wouterlood

    Diverse Talents Pepper Variety's Fifth 10 Europeans to Watch List

    Variety has unveiled its fifth edition of 10 Europeans to Watch, spotlighting 10 rising talents from across the continent who are poised for breakthroughs in 2019. The selection includes emerging actors, directors, showrunners and cinematographers from six countries whose dynamic talents are being showcased on screens big and small, and on both sides of the camera. [...]

  • Glass Movie

    Box Office: 'Glass' Shines Overseas With $48.5 Million Weekend

    After autobots and aquatic kings have dominated foreign markets over the past few weeks, a different kind of hero has risen to the top of box office charts. M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is the new champ overseas, pulling in $48.5 million from international territories. The supernatural thriller, a sequel to 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2016’s “Split,” debuted [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    'Roma' and 'The Favourite' Lead London Critics' Circle Winners

    After ruling the U.S. critics’ award circuit, “Roma” continued its dominance on the other side of the pond, as the London Film Critics’ Circle announced its winners tonight. A week after landing seven BAFTA nominations, Alfonso Cuarón’s Mexico City memory piece landed film of the year and director of the year honors from the group [...]

  • M. Night Shyamalan Should Stop Writing

    The Big Twist M. Night Shyamalan Needs: He Should Stop Writing His Own Scripts (Column)

    Quick, name the greatest film by each of the following directors: Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, David Lean, Robert Altman, Roman Polanski, Kathryn Bigelow, Jonathan Demme. Answers will vary (mine would be: “Psycho,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Nashville,” “Chinatown,” “The Hurt Locker,” “The Silence of the Lambs”), but whatever your taste, odds are that [...]

  • Andy Vajna Dead: 'Rambo' Producer and

    Andy Vajna, 'Rambo' Producer, Dies at 74

    Andy Vajna, executive producer of several “Rambo” films as well as “Total Recall” and several “Terminator” movies, died Sunday in Budapest after a long illness. He was 74. The Hungarian National Film Fund confirmed his death, calling him a “dominant figure in the Hungarian and international film industry” who was responsible for the development of [...]

  • Glass trailer

    Box Office: 'Glass' Dominates MLK Weekend With $47 Million

    M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” topped box office charts during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, collecting $40 million over the weekend for a four-day sum of $47 million. If estimates hold, “Glass” will come in behind “American Sniper” ($107 million) and “Ride Along” ($48 million) as the third-best showing for both January and MLK holiday [...]

  • FICG Names Estrella Araiza As New

    Estrella Araiza To Head Up Guadalajara Intl Film Festival

    The Guadalajara Intl. Film Festival (FICG) has announced that Estrella Araiza, until now the festival’s head of industry and markets and director of the Guadalajara IntL. Film Festival in Los Angeles, has been promoted to the position of general director of the prominent Mexican festival. She replaces Ivan Trujillo, appointed director of TV UNAM. Araiza [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content