I was shocked and saddened to learn recently that my friend and
colleague Peter Brunette had died suddenly of a heart attack while attending
the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily.
All the more so because I had just started reading Peter's new book on Michael
Haneke, which, like all his writing, balanced academic rigor, canny insight, good
humor, unabashed passion, and down to earth clarity in making a difficult
subject engaging and lucid. Peter had that rare combination of intelligence,
erudition, and accessibility that critics and writers aspire to but rarely
He was also the first citizen of that idyllic world of
international film festivals, a place where people from every nation gather once or twice or more a year to
indulge their common love for cinema. That's where I first met him, at the
Toronto festival in 1993, when he was holding court with some other critics,
regaling them with his praise of Kieslowski's "Three Colors: Blue." I took his
tip and saw it, for which I am eternally grateful. I'm grateful also for his terrific coverage of
the 2005 Berlin Film Festival, as well as all the pieces he wrote for the Boston
From them you can get a sense of Peter's gifts as a writer and the keen
insight and sheer pleasure he brings to his subject.
Maybe it's fitting that he passed away while at the Taormina festival, in
that world that he clearly loved and to which he brought so much life. That
world is now diminished and in mourning.
Gerald Peary, who knew Peter well for 40 years, writes
eloquently about his friend here.