Honoring Marcie Bloom, A Champion of International and Independent Cinema
by Eugene Hernandez
In the Spring of 1978, disgruntled in college and working at a New York coffee shop unsure of her career direction, Marcie Bloom was reading the May 2nd edition of The New York Times and came across report on The Film Society of Lincoln Center‘s gala tribute to director George Cukor. The article included a photo of Cukor with the surprise guest of the evening, Katharine Hepburn. More than 25 years later, she pinpoints that moment as sparking her personal interest in pursuing a career in film. Any organization that could bring the reclusive Hepburn to the stage of Alice Tully Hall must be one worth working for she surmised during a conversation with indieWIRE earlier this week. Bloom contacted the organization and during the summer between her junior and senior years at Cornell, she was hired as the organization’s first intern. After graduating she joined The Film Society staff and her career as a champion of international and independent cinema was underway.
Chatting by phone from her Manhattan apartment, Bloom quipped earlier this week, “I’ve dined many an evening on that story.” And tonight, she will again.
Marcie Bloom’s more than twenty-five years working in New York’s film community will be celebrated during an intimate dinner party in The Hamptons this evening. Joined by family and her closest friends and colleagues, Bloom will be honored at the inaugural industry toast presented by the Hamptons International Film Festival and indieWIRE.
In the years since joining the Film Society, Bloom has been a tireless, competitive supporter of international cinema, first as a publicist then joining Michael Barker and Tom Bernard as co-president of Orion Classics and subsequently Sony Pictures Classics.
Since then Bloom has fought fiercely, both in business and in her personal life. Nearly eight years ago, felled by a brain aneurysm that led to a coma, Bloom was paralyzed on her left side, able to speak only in a whisper. Today, her voice stronger and her instincts still sharp, Bloom makes her way to events and screenings in a wheelchair and with the help of an aide.
“I am getting very excited,” Bloom told me during our conversation on Tuesday. “I am incredibly moved,” she said, adding that she is as excited for tonight’s tribute as she gets for a concert by one of her three favorite performers: Patti LaBelle, Bette Midler and Tina Turner. “Those are three strong, unconventionally beautiful women who seem very comfortable with their talents, and they keep getting better,” Bloom enthused.
Decades after reading about the Film Society’s events, two weeks ago Marcie Bloom spent another thrilling night inside Alice Tully Hall, a place that she has returned to often over the years. Inside the theater’s small upstairs green room a sizable crowd had gathered in advance of the Film Society’s October 7th tribute to Pedro Almodóvar. The director, along with actors from his latest film “Bad Education” greeted well-wishers and posed for photos, but shortly before curtain time Marcie Bloom slowly made her way into the room. Almodóvar halted immediately, quickly rushing to the door for a loving greeting. The two share a bond; Almodóvar’s Oscar winning film “Talk to Her” (Hable con Ella) was inspired by the personal tragedy endured by his close friend, Bloom. Chatting with Marcie Bloom and a few others in the green room that night, Almodóvar congratulated her on her well-deserved toast tonight in The Hamptons.
Talking with me a few moments later, Bloom hailed Almodóvar as one her favorite filmmakers, remembering how nervous he was when he first delivered the “Talk to Her” script to Sony. She loved it. Bloom also has tremendous esteem for the work of Zhang Yimou, Stephen Frears, and Merchant Ivory, among others. Singling out Almodóvar and Zhang, she noted that each has, throughout their career, created distinctive female characters.
Over the years, Bloom has promoted, acquired and supported countless classics, from “My Beautiful Laundrette,” “Babette’s Feast,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” “Prick Up Your Ears,” and “Dangerous Liaisons” to “Slacker,” “Raise the Red Lantern,” “Howard’s End,” “Orlando,” “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” “Central Station,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “In The Company of Men,” and “All About My Mother.”
In a statement for tonight’s tribute, Michael Barker and Tom Bernard said of their colleague and friend, “For us, as our partner in business and in life, Marcie is greater than the sun, the moon and the stars.”
[indieWIRE is co-presenting tonight’s tribute to Marcie Bloom at the Hamptons International Film Festival and also hosting the afternoon Town Hall sessions, at 3 p.m. today, tomorrow, and Saturday.]