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Jonathan Oppenheim Dies: ‘Paris Is Burning’ Editor Was 67

Oppenheim's other film credits include Laura Poitras' "The Other" and "Before and After Dinner," a portrait of Andre Gregory.

Jonathan Oppenheim

Jonathan Oppenheim

© 2014 Sundance Institute / Photo by null

Jonathan Oppenheim, editor of such documentaries as the ball culture classic “Paris Is Burning” and Laura Poitras’ “The Oath,” has died after a battle with brain cancer at the age of 67. Though he passed away on July 16, the news was reported on Monday. He died in New York City, with his wife Josie and daughter Netalia at his side.

“Jonathan began his life in the arts as a painter which informed his sensibility in film. He was a talented and highly original painter but documentary film was his chosen medium,” his wife shared in a statement shared with media. “The collaborative dynamic while not always peaceful was one aspect of the work that Jonathan loved. But he found an outlet for his intellectual and artistic talents in all aspects of documentary film. I can say, as well, that the film community was profoundly important to him, and served as a nurturing soil allowing his very great talents to come into flower. But the community was important to us both really; friendships he forged became our friendships and our daughter’s family; became our community as we moved through our lives together.”

Oppenheim’s editing credits also include “Sister Helen” and “Children Underground.” He was the co-editor of “William and the Windmill,” winner of the Grand Jury Prize for documentary at SXSW in 2013, and he was the editor and co-producer of “Before and After Dinner,” a film about Andre Gregory, avant-garde theater director and co-star of “My Dinner With Andre.” He edited the critically acclaimed documentary “Arguing the World,” which explored the intersecting lives of four New York intellectuals across six decades. He most recently edited Stephanie Wang-Breal’s documentary about criminal justice activists, “Blowin’ Up.”

Oppenheim also served as a story consultant on many films, including “How to Survive a Plague,” “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” “(T)error,” “These Birds Walk,” “The Cinema Travelers,” and “Risk.” Oppenheim lectured on editing at the New Museum and mentored Eastern European filmmakers at the Ex Oriente Lab in Prague. Oppenheim was a juror for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival US Documentary competition. He has been both an Advisor and a Fellow at the Sundance Institute Documentary Edit and Story Lab and has presented at NYU, Yale, Columbia, and The New School.

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