Entertainment & Arts

Richard Glatzer, Still Alice film-maker, dies aged 63

Richard Glatzer Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Glatzer and his partner Westmoreland watched the Oscar ceremony from hospital

Richard Glatzer, the co-writer and director of the Oscar-winning film Still Alice, has died aged 63.

Glatzer was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2011, soon after he and his husband, Wash Westmoreland, began adapting Still Alice.

He was too unwell to attend last month's Academy Awards, when Julianne Moore picked up the best actress Oscar for her leading role in the film.

Westmoreland said Glatzer's courage "inspired me and all who knew him".

"I am devastated," Westmoreland said, in a statement. "Rich was my soulmate, my collaborator, my best friend and my life."

"In this dark time, I take some consolation in the fact that he got to see Still Alice go out into the world. He put his heart and soul into that film, and the fact that it touched so many people was a constant joy to him."

Moore simply tweeted: "I love you Richard."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Best actress winner Moore paid tribute to the film-maker last month.

The actress paid tribute to Glatzer in her speech at the Oscars on 22 February.

"When Richard was diagnosed with ALS, Wash asked him what he wanted to do. Did he want to travel? Did he want to see the world? And he said that he wanted to make movies, and that's what he did."

Glatzer and Westmoreland met in 1995 and married in 2013.

Glatzer had previously taught screen-writing in New York and worked as a TV producer on shows including America's Next Top Model.

As film-makers the pair's first notable project was 2001's The Fluffer, set in the porn industry.

Quinceanera, the 2006 film about a pregnant 14-year-old growing up in Los Angeles' Echo Park neighbourhood (where the film-makers then lived), earned them the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

In 2013, they directed Kevin Kline, Susan Sarandon and Dakota Fanning in The Last of Robin Hood, about the final days of Hollywood star Errol Flynn.

But it was Still Alice, the tale of a linguistics professor coping with early on-set Alzheimer's, that was to bring the film-makers award glory.

Glatzer told NPR (National Public Radio) that reading Lisa Genova's novel - on which the film is based - "cut too close to the bone".

"But once I'd finished it, I felt determined to make Still Alice into a movie. It really resonated with me."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Glatzer and Westmoreland won the audience award at Sundance in 2006

During the 23-day shoot, Glatzer communicated by typing with one finger on an iPad, but said he "felt very much heard by everyone, every day. And it's so very important if you're struggling with a disease like this to feel you still matter".

"It's ironic that in my deteriorated state I'd be able to make a film that was creatively everything I'd ever wished for," he told the Associated Press last year.

Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, of Sony Pictures Classics - which distributed the film, called the death of Glatzer "a profound loss for all of us who worked with him and know him as an exceptional human being".

Westmoreland thanked everyone for "this huge outpouring of love". "Richard was a unique guy - opinionated, funny, caring, gregarious, generous and so, so smart. A true artist and a brilliant man.

"I treasure every day of the short 20 years we had together."

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