Indie exhibitor, distributor and producer Ben Barenholtz will be honored this fall as the recipient of the HIFF / indieWIRE Industry Toast at the 18th Hamptons International Film Festival. Originally the owner and operator of Manhattan’s Elgin Theater, Barenholtz has been a key figure in New York City’s independent film scene since the late 1960s.
You cannot tell the story of independent film without talking about Ben Barenholtz. He’s not only been an important part of its history, but Ben continues to influence the movies today. On October 9, 2010, the Hamptons festival will honor him during an evening event that will include tributes from some of his closest film community friends and colleagues. The festival will take place October 7 – 11, 2010 in The Hamptons, about 90 miles from New York City on the east end of Long Island, NY.
Previous honorees saluted by the Hamptons festival & indieWIRE include Marcie Bloom of Sony Pictures Classics, Picturehouse and Apparition founder Bob Berney, indie producer Ted Hope and the late Wouter Barendrecht of Fortissimo Films.
“Ben is such a dynamic figure in the independent film world and has contributed on so many different levels. His influence ripples from both classic films to the next generation of filmmakers whose work he has helped to shape”, said Hamptons festival executive director Karen Arikian, in a statement. “His commitment as a mentor to many young up-and-coming filmmakers remains to this day. We are honored to give this award to Ben and recognize his impact on the industry.”
About Ben Barenholtz
Ben Barenholtz’s innovative approach to the Elgin’s programming made it among the world’s most visionary and historically significant art houses. Barenholtz was the originator of the “All Night Show” as well as the “Midnight Movie”, launched in 1970 with Alexander Jodorowsky’s “El Topo” followed by John Water’s “Pink Flamingos.” At the Elgin, Barenholtz re-launched the films of Buster Keaton and all the while discovering independent films by young American directors working outside the mainstream. Early works by Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme found a home at the Elgin.
Barenholtz was also the founder of specialty distributors Libra Films and co-founder of Circle Releasing, and over the course of his career at these two companies launched films like David Lynch’s “Eraserhead”, John Sayles’ “Return of the Seacaucus Seven,” Guy Maddin’s first feature “Tales From The Gimli Hospital,” “Blood Simple,” the first film by the Coen brothers, as well as Jean Charles Tachella’s “Cousin Cousine,” which garnered three Academy Award nominations.
Barenholtz began producing films in the 80’s, and became Executive Producer on the Coen’s “Miller’s Crossing” and their Cannes triple award winner, “Barton Fink” as well as on Darren Aronofsky’s “Requiem For a Dream.” His directorial debut was the documentary “Music Inn,” which will be followed up by the short, “Percy” about jazz legend Percy Heath. He is currently developing Kurt Bursiek’s “Astro City” with Working Title.