Documentary film editor Jonathan Oppenheim died July 16 in New York City, Sundance Institute confirmed to Variety. He was 67 and had been battling brain cancer .
“Jonathan began his life in the arts as a painter which informed his sensibility in film,” his wife, Josie Oppenheim, wrote in a statement. “He was a talented and highly original painter but documentary film was his chosen medium. The collaborative dynamic while not always peaceful was one aspect of the work that Jonathan loved.”
Oppenheim was best known for editing “Paris is Burning” (1990) and Oscar nominee “Children Underground” (2001). He also edited and co-produced “The Oath” (2010), the Emmy-nominated film in Laura Poitras’ post 9/11 trilogy.
Born to TV producer David Oppenheim and actress Judy Holliday in 1952, he began his editing career with the seminal “Paris is Burning,” directed by Jennie Livingston. He devoted his career to documentary storytelling and edited over 24 films, including the Oscar-nominated films “Streetwise” (1984), “Children Underground” (2001) and “The Oath” (2010). He was also the co-editor of “William and the Windmill” (2013), winner of the Grand Jury Prize and SXSW, and a story consultant on many films, including “How to Survive a Plague” and “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.”
He served as a juror for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Documentary Competition, where he served as both an advisor and a fellow at the Sundance Institute. Oppenheim gave speeches on film editing at The New Museum and mentored Eastern European filmmakers at the Ex Oriente Lab in Prague.
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“I am reacting against documentaries being treated as information delivery vehicles,” Oppenheim once said, [Documentary film] is an art form. That should be the intention. ‘Aliveness’ is the guide.”
Oppenheim is survived by his wife, Josie, and his daughter, Netalia.