Ben Barenholtz, the producer-distributor who helped launch the careers of David Lynch and the Coen Brothers, died on Wednesday in Prague on the age of 83.
Barenholtz is credited with pioneering the idea of the “midnight movie” by screening subversive, future cult classics like John Waters’ “Pink Flamingos” and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “El Topo,” the latter of which Barenholtz determined to display screen on the (now defunct) Elgin Theater in New York City after attending the non-public screening of it on the Museum of Modern Art. That screening is seen as important by movie historians to serving to the movie discover a wider viewers and acquire a legacy as certainly one of Jodorowsky’s most well-known works.
During World War II, Barenholtz escaped the Nazi focus camps on the age of eight by dwelling within the woods of Poland with 11 different escapees, shedding his father throughout the conflict. Barenholtz saved his previous a secret till 2010 when he revealed it in a collection of weblog posts.
As an grownup, Barenholtz obtained his begin within the movie business as a movie show proprietor, opening The Elgin in 1968. The theater turned a hotbed for New York’s cinema scene, screening traditional movies from Buster Keaton, experimental work from Andy Warhol and movies from New Hollywood filmmakers like Martin Scorsese.
Barenholtz’s influence on movie expanded when he entered into movie distribution, beginning labels like Libra Films and Circle Films. Through these firms, Barenholtz launched the debut movies from David Lynch and Joel & Ethan Coen, “Eraserhead” and “Blood Simple,” respectively. He would additionally work with the Coens as a producer on 1987’s “Raising Arizona.”
At a 2010 tribute ceremony, Lynch praised Barenholtz in a weird video, crediting him with serving to begin his profession.
“Ben saved my life in films,” Lynch stated. “To oversee getting a good print, Ben gave me a room in his house. He gave me money to get food. He said I only ate McDonald’s and only drank coffee. Thank you, Ben. You deserve awards.”
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