Bingham Ray, the co-founder of October Films (which was one of the top indie film distribution companies of the 1990s) and a former president of United Artists, died on Monday at the age of 57.  He passed away in a Provo, Utah hospital after  suffering a stroke while attending the Sundance Film Festival last week.

Born on Oct. 1, 1954, in Bronxville, N.Y., Ray started out as a programmer and manager at New York’s Bleecker Street Cinema before forming October Films with Jeff Lipsky in Lipsky’s Sherman Oaks garage.  Soon, the independent distribution company was knocking out some of the most interesting films of the 1990s by some of the world’s most prominent directors: David Lynch (Lost Highway), Robert Altman (Cookie’s Fortune), Lars von Trier (Breaking the Waves), Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies), Jim Jarmusch (The Year of the Horse), Robert Duvall (The Apostle), and John Dahl (The Last Seduction).

Ray eventually moved on to the presidency of United Artists, championing and releasing such eventual Oscar-winning fare as Bowling for Columbine and No Man’s Land, before stepping down in 2004 due to reportedly clashing with UA exec’s over his “esoteric” and “arty” tastes.

Of Ray’s life, Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford said this:

“We lost a true warrior for independent voice today with the passing of Bingham Ray… He was a valued member of the Sundance family for as long as I can remember, and he is responsible for mentoring countless seminal storytellers and bringing their work to the world.”

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Source:  Los Angeles Times