×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bruce Sinofsky, Oscar-Nominated Documentary Filmmaker, Dies at 58

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Bruce Sinofsky died early Saturday morning in his sleep from complications stemming from diabetes, his frequent collaborator Joe Berlinger told Variety. He was 58.

Sinofsky covered a range of topics in his career — from heavy metal to murder cases.

He is best known for the “Paradise Lost” trilogy, a series of films he made with Berlinger about the West Memphis Three, a group of teenagers convicted, despite a lack of evidence, of murdering and sexually mutilating three prepubescent boys. Prosecutors claimed the children were killed as part of a satanic court ritual. Those films helped draw attention to miscarriages of justice associated with their trial and conviction. A number of celebrities including Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Henry Rollins and Johnny Depp also rallied to the cause.

Public pressure resulted in the Arkansas Supreme Court allowing the three men — Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin — to be released after serving 18 years and 78 days in prison. Sinofsky and Berlinger were nominated for an Oscar for 2011’s “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” just months after the men were freed.

He also won an Emmy for co-directing 1996’s “Paradise Lost” and a Directors Guild Award for teaming with Berlinger on 1992’s “Brother’s Keeper,” which looked at an elderly man accused of murdering his brother.

In a statement to Variety, Berlinger remembered that Sinofsky urged him to work on “Brother’s Keeper” in 1991 despite the fact that they lacked equipment and financial backing.

“His unique combination of courage and empathy made that possible, as well as everything that came after for us,” Berlinger said. “The extraordinary adventures we had on the road and the deeply stimulating experiences we had in the editing room were life-changing for all of us who knew him thanks to his wisdom and fervor to change the world.”

Sinofsky was also passionate about music, as evidenced by his work on “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster” and “Good Rockin’ Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records” for PBS’ “American Masters.”

His other credits include episodes of the Sundance Channel series “Iconoclasts,” an installment of History’s “10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America,” “Oprah’s Master Class: Civil Rights Special” and numerous other film and television projects.

“Bruce’s humanity is on every frame of the films that he leaves behind, and words can’t express how graced I feel my life has been by having the extraordinary opportunity of being able to say we were partners and, more importantly, best friends,” Berlinger said.

Sinofsky also won a Peabody, an Independent Spirit Award and accolades from the Sundance Film Festival.

He graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and kicked off his career working as an editor at Maysles Films, the company behind such legendary documentaries as “Grey Gardens” and “Gimme Shelter.”

A memorial service for Sinofsky will be held in March.

More Film

  • Roman Polanski

    Roman Polanski Sues Film Academy to Be Reinstated

    Film director Roman Polanski is suing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, demanding reinstatement to the prestigious organization after he was expelled last May. The suit, filed in the state of California, says AMPAS did not follow proper protocol in dismissing him nearly a year ago. The Academy did so “in accordance with [...]

  • Lorraine Warren dead

    Lorraine Warren, Paranormal Investigator Who Inspired 'The Conjuring,' Dies at 92

    Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigator and demonologist whose life inspired franchises like “The Conjuring” and “The Amityville Horror,” has died. She was 92. Warren’s son-in-law Tony Spera confirmed the news. Spera said on Facebook, “She died peacefully in her sleep at home.” He continued, “She was a remarkable, loving, compassionate and giving soul. To quote Will [...]

  • THE EXORCIST

    'Exorcist' Star Max Von Sydow Doesn't Let Age Define His Roles

    Max von Sydow turned 90 this month, which is a milestone for most people, but age has always seemed incidental to the actor. When he played the elderly, frail Father Merrin in “The Exorcist,” von Sydow was 44 — meaning he was the same age Bradley Cooper is today. In the 1950s, von Sydow had [...]

  • 'Changing the Game' Documentary

    Watch the First Trailer for Trans Documentary 'Changing the Game' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Another hurdle for trans rights could quite literally be the track and field hurdle. Transgender student athletes are put in the spotlight in the forthcoming documentary “Changing the Game,” set to premiere at 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Variety has the world premiere of the doc’s first teaser trailer, which gives an in-depth look into the [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Box Office

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Conjures $2.8 Million on Thursday Night

    “The Curse of La Llorona,” the latest entry in Warner Bros. and New Line’s “Conjuring” universe, conjured $2.75 million from Thursday preview showings, while “Breakthrough,” a faith-based offering from Fox-Disney, brought in $1.5 million from its second day of screenings. “La Llorona’s” haul tops recent horror counterparts “Pet Sematary” and “Escape Room,” which each took [...]

  • Chinese Films Make the Cannes Lineup,

    Cannes: Chinese Films Make the Lineup, but Will They Make It to France?

    Cannes has chosen two mainland Chinese titles for its official selection: Diao Yinan’s “Wild Goose Lake,” in competition, and Zu Feng’s “Summer of Changsha,” for Un Certain Regard. Both films appear to have received the necessary official approvals from Chinese authorities to premiere overseas. But their journey to the Cote d’Azur is by no means [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content