Shari Roman, R.I.P.
Filmmaker, writer and critic Shari Roman, a friend to many in our community, including all of us at Filmmaker, died September 9 at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York after a short illness. Her passing took us by surprise as she told few people that she was sick. Indeed, many heard the news only after a small family memorial was held on the 13th.
Readers of Filmmaker will remember Shari’s byline, as she wrote for us on numerous occasions, penning interviews, reports, festival coverage, and, in Spring, 2002, our cover story on Matthew Barney and his Cremaster series — the first time Barney’s work as a filmmaker had been given significant editorial space in a film publication. But longtime readers will also remember the very first time Shari’s name appeared in our pages. It was in 1999 when she and Sophie Fiennes were picked for the second edition of our “25 New Faces” series. Shari and Sophie had just finished Lars from 1 – 10, an experimental short documentary on the Danish director, commissioned by John Pierson for his IFC series “Split Screen.” Shari went on to direct other film portraits, including one of Mike Figgis and, in 2003, ADM:DOP, a short film about the life and creative work of acclaimed cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle.
As you can tell from the above credits, Shari had impeccable taste, and she had it early. That is, she was on to people and artistic trends long before they burst into the mainstream. In 2001 she wrote Digital Babylon: Hollywood, Indiewood and Dogme ’95, a book that was positively prescient about the directions filmmaking would go. In it, she traced the influence of small digital cameras and the playfully rule-bound Dogme movement and investigated how both would alter independent film production, distribution and exhibition practices. Harmony Korine wrote the preface, Godard the first chapter, and there are interviews with Von Trier and Vinterberg as well as Rick Linklater, John Bailey, Agnes Varda, Gus Van Sant, Dod Mantle and then, on the industry side, me, Jason Kliot, Peter Broderick, Geoff Gilmore, Piers Handling and several others. Looking at the book again now, I’m knocked out by its eclectic methods and by its insistent curiosity, both attributes Roman demonstrated throughout her work and her life.
Shari was the film editor of Flaunt, where she aggressively covered American independent film and international arthouse cinema. She also wrote for The Guardian, Mojo, Time Out London, and Res. Shari was a perceptive critic and a patient interviewer, always able to draw out her subjects and place them in a more personal space. She had a fresh way of looking at things, was a good and generous friend to many, and, finally, it should be said that she was a strong and passionate advocate for this film world of ours. Independent and art cinema wasn’t a “gig” for Shari; it was a world full of art and artists that she loved, and that love always showed through in her work. She will be missed.
Shari’s last piece for the print magazine was “Trans-Art Express” in Spring, 2007, and we have just reposted it here.