Mark Urman, Veteran Indie Film Distributor, Dies at 66

The president of ThinkFilm and Paladin steered Oscar campaigns for films like “Monster’s Ball” and “Affliction”

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Veteran indie film distributor Mark Urman, most recently president and CEO of New York-based Paladin Films, died Saturday following a bout with cancer, a rep for Paladin confirmed. He was 66.

Urman began his career in the international publicity department at United Artists, followed by publicity positions with Columbia Pictures and the studio’s Triumph Films. In 1997, he left the PR firm Dennis Davidson and Associates to join Cinepix Film Properties as its head of U.S. distribution.

While serving as distribution president at ThinkFilm in the early 2000s, Urman steered seven films to Oscar nominations in six years, with “Taxi to the Dark Side” and “Born Into Brothels” both winning the gold for Best Documentary Feature.

He also shepherded successful Oscar campaigns for the films “Monsters Ball,” “Affliction,” “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” and “Gods and Monsters,” as well as securing a Best Actor nomination for Ryan Gosling in his breakout performance in 2007’s “Half Nelson.”

In 2009, Urman founded and was president/CEO of the independent distributor Paladin Films, whose titles include Taika Watiti’s “What We Do in the Shadows,” “Boy,” “Douchebag,” “Being Charlie” and “Rockaway,” which is in theaters now.

“It has been a difficult time and hard to believe he is gone,” a rep for Paladin told TheWrap.

“Sorry to hear about the passing of Mark Urman,” Scott Macaulay, an indie producer and editor of Filmmaker magazine, said in a Sunday post. “I remember well his passionate, engaging and erudite pitches during his days as a publicist, which coincided with the early days of this magazine. He’d keep you on the phone until you too were a believer.”

Matt Dentler, former SXSW producer and now head programmer for Cinetic Rights Management, offered his own tribute. “I always admired his ability to balance marketing with the artists’ goals,” Dentler wrote on Sunday. “No distributor gave statements in press releases like he did.”