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Still Alice film-maker Richard Glatzer dies

Story by Jack Foley

RICHARD Glatzer, the co-writer and director of the Oscar-winning film Still Alice, has died at the age of 63.

Glatzer was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2011, soon after he and his husband, Wash Westmoreland, began adapting Still Alice.

He was too unwell to attend last month’s Academy Awards, where the film’s leading lady Julianne Moore picked up the best actress Oscar – on top of a host of other awards including the BAFTA and Golden Globe.

Moore did pay tribute to Glatzer in her speech at the Oscars, saying: “When Richard was diagnosed with ALS, Wash asked him what he wanted to do. Did he want to travel? Did he want to see the world? And he said that he wanted to make movies, and that’s what he did.”

It was testament to his dedication to getting the film made that Glatzer was able to overcome his condition, communicating with his cast and crew by typing with one finger on an iPad.

But he told the Associated Press in a recent interview that the decision to persevere with making the film meant that he “felt very much heard by everyone, every day”.

“It’s so very important if you’re struggling with a disease like this to feel you still matter,” he added.

Glatzer has long held film in high esteem, having previously taught screen-writing in New York and worked as a TV producer on shows including America’s Next Top Model.

However, upon meeting Westmoreland in 1995, the two formed a formidable filmmaking partnership before marrying in 2013.

As film-makers, the pair’s first notable project was 2001’s The Fluffer, which was set in the porn industry, before 2006’s Quinceanera chronicled the story of a pregnant 14-year-old growing up in LAs’ Echo Park neighbourhood (where the film-makers then lived). The latter film earned them the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

In 2013, they directed Kevin Kline, Susan Sarandon and Dakota Fanning in The Last of Robin Hood, about the final days of Hollywood star Errol Flynn, before finding their biggest success with Still Alice, the tale of a linguistics professor coping with early on-set Alzheimer’s. It co-starred Kristen Stewart and Alec Baldwin and was among the best reviewed films of 2014 ahead of its award-winning success.

In paying tribute to his partner, Westmoreland said Glatzer’s courage “inspired me and all who knew him”.

“I am devastated,” he continued in a statement. “Rich was my soul-mate, my collaborator, my best friend and my life.

“In this dark time, I take some consolation in the fact that he got to see Still Alice go out into the world. He put his heart and soul into that film, and the fact that it touched so many people was a constant joy to him.”

Moore simply tweeted: “I love you Richard.”