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Jonathan Oppenheim, ‘Paris Is Burning’ Film Editor, Dies at 67

Oppenheim also edited and co-produced Laura Poitras’ ”The Oath“ and was a fellow with the Sundance Institute

Jonathan Oppenheim, an editor on classic documentary films such as 199o’s “Paris Is Burning,” has died at age 67.

Oppenehim died of brain cancer in New York City on July 16, according to the Sundance Institute, where he had long served as a fellow and adviser. No cause of death was given.

Oppenheim edited and co-produced the second film in director Laura Poitras’ post-9/11 trilogy, “The Oath,” which was a psychological portrait of Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard. He won a Peabody Award for the 1987 film “Arguing the World,” about four Jewish intellectuals educated at New York City College in the 1930s who each became prominent figures with starkly different viewpoints.

Among his more notable editing credits are 2001’s “Children Underground,” 2002’s “Sister Helen,” about a nun working with prisoners on death row, 2013’s “Andre Gregory: Before and After Dinner,” about the actor who appears in Louis Malle’s acclaimed 1981 film “My Dinner With Andre.” Most recently, he edited the documentaries “In the Land of Pomegranates” and “Blowin’ Up,” both in 2018.

He’s also served as a story consultant on such films as 2012’s “How to Survive a Plague,” 2012’s “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” 2013’s “These Birds Walk,” 2015’s “(T)error,” 2016’s “The Cinema Travelers,” and 2016’s “Risk.”

Oppenheim has spoken on the art of documentary editing at “The New Museum” and has mentored Eastern European filmmakers at the Ex Oriente Lab in Prague. He was also a juror for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Documentary competition and has been an advisor and fellow at the Sundance Institute Documentary Edit and Story Lab, as well as presenting at NYU, Yale, Columbia, and The New School.

“Jonathan began his life in the arts as a painter which informed his sensibility in film,” his wife, Josie Oppenheim, said in a statement. “He was a talented and highly original painter but documentary film was his chosen medium. The collaborative dynamic while not always peaceful was one aspect of the work that Jonathan loved. But he found an outlet for his intellectual and artistic talents in all aspects of documentary film. I can say, as well, that the film community was  profoundly important to him, and served as a nurturing soil allowing his very great talents to come into flower. But the community was important to us both really; friendships he forged became our friendships and our daughter’s family; became our community as we moved through our lives together.”

In addition to Josie, he is survived by his daughter, Netalia.