Bingham Ray Dies At Sundance

October Films co-founder and San Francisco Film Society executive director died near the Sundance Film Festival.

PARK CITY, Utah — Bingham Ray, a champion of independent filmmaking, died on Monday (January 23) near Park City, Utah, the Sundance Institute has announced.

Ray, 57, was the co-founder of October Films and the executive director of the San Francisco Film Society. He suffered a stroke during the Sundance Film Festival last week and was initially hospitalized in Park City. Following a second stroke, Ray was transferred to Provo, where he later died.

“It is with great sadness that the Sundance Institute acknowledges the passing of Bingham Ray, cherished independent film executive and most recently Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society,” reads a statement posted on Deadline. “On behalf of the independent film community in Park City for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and elsewhere, we offer our support and condolences to his family. Bingham’s many contributions to this community and business are indelible, and his legacy will not be soon forgotten.”

“The board of directors and staff of the Film Society are stunned and deeply saddened by the untimely death of our executive director Bingham Ray,” said Pat McBaine, board president of the San Francisco Film Society. “We at the Film Society and the entire film community have lost far too early an energetic and visionary impact player who has helped shape the independent film industry for decades in so many important and valuable ways.”

Ray is perhaps best known as the co-founder of October Films, the 1990s-era independent film production company and distributor responsible for movies such as “Secrets and Lies,” “Lost Highway” and “Cherry Falls.” October was later acquired by Universal Pictures and renamed USA Films, which itself became the basis of Focus Features, Universal’s art house arm that counts “In Bruges” and “Milk” among its many credits.

The San Francisco Film Society named Ray as executive director in November 2011 after the death of the SFFS’ director Graham Leggat this past August.

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