In Memory of Visionary Filmmaker Michael Shamberg

Michael ShambergMaryland Film Festival is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of beloved filmmaker and MFF alum Michael Shamberg, who passed away on November 1st, 2014 after a long battle with illness.

Michael Shamberg (1952-2014) was a music video pioneer, filmmaker, collaborative artist and founder of Factory Records in New York.  He worked with Joy Division and produced several music videos for bands including New Order, Patti Smith, Grace Jones, B-52’s, R.E.M, Throwing Muses, Kristin Hersh and Electronic. He collaborated with artists and filmmakers including Robert Breer, William Wegman, Robert Frank, Phillip DeCouflé and Robert Longo to make groundbreaking music videos. He also brought in artists such as Lawrence Weiner, John Baldessari and Barbara Kruger to do posters for the bands.

Michael was an unconventional moviemaker whose filmmaking lived outside the mainstream. Chris Marker was a close friend and collaborator, and Michael was able to provide work in the early careers of prominent filmmakers like Jonathan Demme and Kathryn Bigelow.

He was a part of the Maryland Film Festival family both as an alum and longtime member of the MFF Screening Committee.  Michael’s deep appreciation for film culture included a rich knowledge of contemporary international cinema, a passion he shared with MFF audiences in his eloquent introduction of Tsai Ming-liang’s I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP ALONE within MFF 2007.

Pioneering in its time, Michael’s feature film SOUVENIR played within the 1999 Maryland Film Festival. SOUVENIR was shot on 35mm film, video and super 8, with computer graphic elements, all components digitized for editing, and then re-transferred to film for the final print.  It was shot in Paris over a period of 15 days and is a meditative exploration of memory, technology, history, chance, environment and geographical displacement.

I made SOUVENIR to create an emotional journey for the viewer. The film was written in Paris, where, as a displaced person, I absorbed the influences of the familiar and the foreign – of sculpture and of architecture, and of the European cinema – to draw the story out.

– Michael Shamberg, 1999 MFF Program Book

Michael’s short film TRIBECA, an early document of the post-punk band A Certain Ratio, was also screened within the 2011 Maryland Film Festival.

Michael was an amazingly talented artist and filmmaker whose intelligence, curiosity and good will led to friendship and collaboration with an extraordinary number of prominent (and obscure) artists, musicians, filmmakers, dancers, poets, and writers around the world.  He will be dearly missed.

Our sincerest condolences go out to Michael Shamberg’s friends and family.

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