George Hickenlooper, who directed the 1991 documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (about the making of Apocalypse Now!), has died at 47. He was found this morning in Denver, where he was preparing to premiere his latest film, Casino Jack, at the Starz Denver Film Festival. The movie stars Kevin Spacey as disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. According to The Denver Post, Hickenlooper appears to have died of natural causes.
Hickenlooper also directed the 2006 Edie Sedgwick biopic Factory Girl, the 2003 documentary Mayor of the Sunset Strip, and the 2001 drama The Man From Elysian Fields. He is survived by his wife and son. The late filmmaker’s cousin, Denver mayor and gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper, issued this statement to The Denver Post: “Shock and sadness do not begin to describe our emotions. We are devastated. George had immense creative talents and cinematic gifts, but he was so much more than that to us and all his family. His passion for life, zeal for people and unquenchable curiosity enriched everyone who had the fortune to know him. We will miss his sense of humor, his warm character and the avid encouragement he gave anyone around him. Our hearts go out to his wife, Suzanne, and his son, Charles.”
UPDATE: A statement from Johnathan Dorfman and Temple Fennell of ATO Pictures, the Casino Jack distributor:
“On behalf of ATO Pictures, we are devastated by the loss of our friend and colleague, George Hickenlooper. Those who knew George can attest to his amazing talent and commitment to excellence. No one held the bar higher or had a bigger heart. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”