Film critic and author Peter Brunette, a frequent contributor to indieWIRE in recent years, died this morning in Italy while attending the Taormina Film Festival.
Brunette, who was at the Italian festival this week as a contributor to The Hollywood Reporter, reportedly suffered a heart attack during breakfast today at a local hotel.
A professor of film studies and director of the film studies program at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, Peter Brunette has been a frequent contributor to numerous film publications including Screen International, The Hollywood Reporter and indieWIRE.
Peter Brunette has written many books, including numerous examinations of individual filmmakers, including Roberto Rossellini, Michelangelo Antonioni and Wong Kar-wai. His latest, “Michael Haneke,” is the first full-length look at the Austrian filmmaker. Brunette also served as the editor for the filmmaker interview series of books at the University Press of Mississippi. He has also served as a commentator on numerous DVDs.
Brunette received a B.A. from Duquesne University in 1965 and a Masters from the same university in 1967. He received a PhD in English and Film from the University of Wisconsin in 1975. He served as a lecturer at the Sorbonne in Paris, an instructor at the University of Maryland and George Mason University before joining Wake Forest University in 2004.
A fixture at international film festivals including Cannes, Berlin, Toronto and others, Brunette could often be found at the center of a discussion about the movies, in passionate discussions before or after screenings among a circle of colleagues.
“Brunette studies art films — films intended to be serious artistic, not commercial works,” offered a profile by Wake Forest earlier this year. “Brunette, who teaches courses on Asian, European and American independent film, says he’s not against blockbuster movies, but he encourages students to also look at art films.”
“People should watch art films for the same reason they should read Virginia Woolf as well as Tom Clancy,” Peter Brunette told the Wake Forest publication, “These are films that have power and stay with you and can teach you something about life. Watch them for the same reason you would go to a museum to look at Vermeer. Don’t get me wrong. I like pop culture too. I watch the TV show ’24’ like a hawk and I loved ‘The Sopranos.’ But, there is a place for films that challenge preconceptions… for films that explore the meaning of being human in an important way.”
Brunette was working on a book about Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti.
Peter Brunette’s criticWIRE page is available here on indieWIRE.
indieWIRE sends its deepest condolences to Peter Brunette’s loved ones and invites his friends and colleagues to post comments or memories at the end of this article.