The news has been spreading fast through Park City, as the snow starts to fall again. Bingham Ray had such a warm spirit and greatly encouraged people to follow their dreams. Sundance was one of the many festival at which he shined; wherever Bing was, it was the center of the party.
Bing emailed me last week to make sure I was coming to the SF Film Festival party, which was to be held Tuesday here at Sundance. He cared that we all stay in the game, be part of the world of indie film that he so embodied. No matter his own struggles, he had kind words for all of us who strive and seek.
I ran into Janet Pierson in the lobby of the Marriott. She said she first met Bingham in ’81 or ’82, when he was working for Dan Talbot and she was working at the Film Forum. “Bingham was one of a kind,” she said, choking up. “Passionate, committed to great art in cinema. He loved great movies and talented filmmakers. He was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, a great storyteller. People loved him in a singular way around the world.”
Annette Insdorf said, "I find it hard to believe that Bingham is suddenly gone. I first met him about 30 years ago, when we were both relative newcomers to the New York film scene. I watched him grow into a prime mover and shaker--not just in the Big Apple, but bi-coastally and internationally. What a vivid, smart, garrulous presence!"
Facebook was filled with comments, including:
David Linde: "Rest In Peace, Bingham. We will miss you but not forget everything you gave us and the world around you."
Bill Stephens: "We are much poorer without him but richer for having known him. Rest in peace Bing."
Jeff Dowd: "RIP Bingham. I loved you. Your spirit is with us forever."
Jack Turner: "One of the most wise, special and hilarious men to walk the earth. Goodbye Sir Bingham."
Ross Katz: "RIP Bingham Ray. You were the true believer -- Independent film will never be the same without you."
Mark Ordesky: "Profoundly sad news. A friend and a mentor. He'll be sorely missed..."
Dan Ireland: "Heartbreaker! My friend and colleague Bingham Ray passed away today after having two strokes while attending the Sundance Film Festival. He was an amazing guy, that was loved by all that came into contact with him. He helped both Darryl M and myself shape the Seattle Film Festival early on, and was the smartest distributor, bar none, and the coolest of guys. He is already missed. RIP dear friend."
Dan Beers: "Bingham touched so many people Jack. He may be gone physically, but he will live on through everyone who knew him. Thinking of you on this very sad day."
Howard A. Rodman: Bingham Ray. A great man of cinema. There are likely a hundred interesting films that, one way or another, owe their existence or audience to Bingham. When he ran October, we once spent twenty minutes debating the correct pronunciation of "Delmer Daves." With how many other studio heads can you imagine having that conversation? In his office, above his head, was a huge framed poster of David Lynch's "Lost Highway," a film he distributed, and a film of which he was immensely proud. As he once told me: "I lost my shorts on that one. And I would do it again." He was a pal and a good guy and I owe him more than I can say. May he rest in peace.
And in the burgeoning comments section of the IndieWire tribute to Ray:
Peter Biskind: "Bingham was the hero of my book, Down and Dirty Pictures, one of the few in a brutal game who truly loved films. We got off to a bad start, when I was just starting the research, didn't know shit, and said something really stupid, like "the book is about Miramax and October is just a footnote." He wouldn't speak to me for six months, until Ron Yerxa arranged a rapprochement. The more I learned about and from Bingham, the more I appreciated him and the larger he loomed in the story. He was very funny, and had that quality that was rare in the film business: he was fearless, never hesitated to say what he felt. I can't believe he won't be there any more to put me on the floor with his scabrous stories. What a shame, and a loss for everyone."
@MMFlint (Michael Moore): I will deeply miss Bingham Ray who died today. He bought & distributed BowlingforColumbine when no one else would. He stood by me all the way.