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Mark Urman, Veteran Independent Film Distributor, Dies at 66

Mark Urman, a veteran independent film distributor who headed Paladin Films for the past decade, died on Saturday after a short illness. He was 66.

Urman executive produced “Monster’s Ball” and “Murderball,” and was involved in campaigns for Oscar contenders “Half Nelson,” “Affliction,” and “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.” He broke into the entertainment business in the 1980s by working in publicity at United Artists in New York, followed by Columbia Pictures’ Triumph Films and Dennis Davidson Associates.

In 1997, he became a distribution executive at Cinepix Film Properties, which became Lionsgate. He moved to ThinkFilm in 2001 to head theatrical distribution and oversaw the release of “Half Nelson,” for which Ryan Gosling received a best actor Academy Award nomination; Oscar-winning documentaries “Taxi to the Dark Side” and “Born Into Brothels”; and docs “Spellbound,” “The Story of the Weeping Camel,” “Murderball,” and “War/Dance.”

After a brief stint at Senator, Urman launched Paladin in 2009 and assembled an initial four-film release slate, including the Bryce Dallas Howard-starrer “The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond.”

“I’m staggered at the opportunities and the quality of the films available,” Urman told Variety at the time. “I’m working at what I’m meant to do — working in partnership with filmmakers.”

Paladin releases included Shana Feste’s “The Greatest”; the Tom Shadyac documentary “I Am”; Taika Waititi’s vampire comedy “What We Do in the Shadows”; the sexual-harassment drama “Submission,” starring Stanley Tucci; Drake Doremus’ “Douchebag”; and Rob Reiner’s “Being Charlie.”

Urman is survived by two children and his wife, author Deborah Davis, who posted a tribute to him on her Facebook page.

“After a ridiculously short illness, Mark Urman passed away on Saturday,” she wrote. “He loved me, his children, Oliver and Cleo, his family, his friends, movies, and every dog he ever met. He told a dear friend that his life was rich because he had done everything he wanted to do. He appreciated the beauty of the moment — and we appreciate his wonderful wit, his brilliance, his big heart, and his passion for everyone and everything he loved.”

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