(Reuters) — Indie auteur Richard Glatzer, who directed and wrote films including “Still Alice” with his husband Wash Westmoreland, died Tuesday in Los Angeles of complications from ALS. He was 63.
Sony Pictures Classics released “Still Alice,” for which Julianne Moore won the best actress Oscar for her portrayal of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease. The role was informed by Glatzer’s four-year struggle with the degenerative disease.
Westmoreland wrote in the press kit for the film: “He was on set every day, directing the movie, despite incredible physical difficulties. This silently infused the whole production with a sense of deeper purpose. In essence, this was what the movie was about. Right there. Everyone felt that something special was going on and bore the long hard hours with grace.”
Glatzer and Westmoreland also directed 2006’s “Quinceanera,” which won the audience award and the grand jury prize at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Set in the filmmaker’s neighborhood of Echo Park, Calif., the low-budget film about a Mexican-American family preparing for their daughter’s quinceanera celebration also won the John Cassavetes Spirit Award and was released by Sony Pictures Classics.
Born in Queens, he grew up on Long Island and in New Jersey. He earned a PhD in English from the U. of Virginia, where he formed a friendship with Frank Capra and help revive interest in his career.
Working with Jay and Lewis Allen, he left academia and entered entertainment, moving to Los Angeles to work on “Divorce Court.” He also worked on “Road Rules,” “The Osbournes” and “America’s Next Top Model.” He was active in HIV/AIDS fundraising and ran the L.A. underground club Sit-and-Spin.
Glatzer’s first feature was “Grief,” drawing on his life as a writer for a trashy TV show who is dealing with the death of his partner. It won the audience award at San Francisco’s Frameline Festival.
Glatzer and Westmoreland met in 1995, and their first film together was “The Fluffer,” about the gay porn industry. They also directed “The Last of Robin Hood” in 2013 and they exec produced “Pedro” for MTV, about “The Real World’s” Pedro Zamora.
In addition to his husband, Glatzer is survived by his sister Joan Kodner, several nieces and nephews and his daughter Ruby Smith.