Nick Ut/AP
Lanford Beard
January 23, 2012 AT 08:24 PM EST

Bingham Ray has passed away after suffering a stroke at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Ray, 57, cofounded October Films in 1991 and was at the helm of the film house when championed such indie breakouts as Breaking the Waves, Secrets & Lies, and The Apostle. In 1999, he sold the company to USA Networks. Two years later, Ray took a post as president of United Artists and oversaw the production of Bowling for Columbine and Hotel Rwanda. In recent years, he served as president of Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, consulted for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, worked as an adjunct professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and was an advocate for ushering indie films into the digital age.

Ray had just accepted the excecutive director post at the San Francisco Film Society in October. Pat McBaine, the SFFS’s board president, said of Ray, “We at the Film Society and the entire film community have lost far too early an energetic and visionary impact player who has helped shape the independent film industry for decades in so many important and valuable ways.”

The Sundance Institute also issued a statement:

“It is with great sadness that the Sundance Institute acknowledges the passing of Bingham Ray, cherished independent film executive and most recently Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society.  On behalf of the independent film community here in Park City for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and elsewhere, we offer our support and condolences to his family. Bingham’s many contributions to this community and business are indelible, and his legacy will not be soon forgotten.”

Ray is survived by wife Nancy King and their children Nick, Annabel, and Becca.

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