Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Anthony Minghella

I met Anthony Minghella when he and I taught at the Summer Institute of Film in Ottawa in 1991. 

He screened Truly, Madly, Deeply there to ecstatic acclaim.  Later that year, I traveled to the Edinburgh Film Festival with a short film I'd directed and saw Anthony in the lobby.  When he saw me, without a word he came over and embraced me like a long lost brother.  He was a very tactile person and his hug was so genuine and heartfelt that it was impossible not to have some deep dark spot inside your soul instantly healed by him.  I still remember that hug.

His outward humanity was not fake.  He was utterly genuine.

He premiered Truly, Madly, Deeply in Edinburgh and I got to hang out with him and Juliet Stevenson for a day.  They were like artistic lovers--platonic, but passionate and I was just happy to be in their incredible wake.  Feeling barely literate, barely alive compared to them, I toddled along as they discovered the arts and crafts festival adjacent to the cinema. I watched them treat the vendors as if they sold treasures from Tutankhamen's tomb.  You'd think a silk-screened scarf was made by Michelangelo, given their delight.  After a screening of a short film based on a Chekhov story, I watched as Anthony held Juliet for several minutes as she wept uncontrollably because the lead character had reminded her of her father.  His love for her passion was so clear in his embrace.  Anthony's healing hug.

I once asked him, being an aspiring director myself, whether he felt like he was now a director who wrote for himself--now that he'd made his first feature.  He looked at me for a moment, thinking, and then said softly that when he looked inside himself, no matter what else he did, he felt like he was a writer first.  That's who he truly was at heart.

It's a great loss, but we have his film legacy.  I'm grateful to have briefly experienced him in person as well.  I'm just deeply saddened that I'll never get another chance.

My condolences to his family and anyone who was a fan of his work.

1 comment:

Sugith Varughese said...

Sorry for the typo in the para. about Juliet Stevenson: "like if the vendors". I think my emotions got in the way of good proofreading.

I can only imagine Juliet Stevenson's grief at Anthony's passing.