It was a rough weekend in the world of celebrity obituaries.
This weekend saw the passing of rock legend Lou Reed, comedienne Marcia Wallace (of “Bob Newhart Show” and “Simpsons” fame), and stuntman-turned-director Hal Needham (“Smokey and the Bandit”).
The death of a lesser-known filmmaker also came across the news wires and internet this weekend: Antonia Bird.
Bird, 54, had been working most recently in British TV. But for a stretch in the ‘90s, she was making a name for herself with controversial dramas — notably, “Priest” (1994), about a Catholic clergyman wrestling with his sexuality, and “Ravenous” (1999), an Old West thriller inspired by the infamous incident at Donner Pass.
Both “Priest” and “Ravenous” played at the Sundance Film Festival, in 1995 and 1999, respectively. That makes Bird part of the Sundance family — and the family should have a way to acknowledge her passing.
The Cricket has this humble suggestion: Sundance should do what the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and other award shows do in such circumstances — an “In Memoriam” tribute reel at the festival’s closing-night awards ceremony.
Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute is more than 30 years old, and the independent-film community is established enough that some of its members are getting on in years.
So it’s fitting for the Sundance Film Festival — the central meeting point of the independent-film world — to mark the passing of those the community loses each year.
Besides Bird and Reed (who visited the festival in 2011), this year’s roll of departed friends could easily include Roger Ebert (a Sundance attendee from the beginning), James Gandolfini (“Welcome to the Rileys,” SFF ‘10), Ray Manzarek (“When You’re Strange,” SFF ‘09), Karen Black (“Plan 10 From Outer Space,” SFF ‘95) and the documentarian Les Blank (“In Heaven There Is No Beer,” U.S. Film Festival ‘84).
That’s an incomplete list, of course. Surely the friends of Sundance can think of others worthy of mention.