I only knew him through his movies and writing, through his lectures and public pronouncements, yet I find myself disconsolate on hearing this terrible news. I am, of course, a big fan of his fine body of work, his movies having given me such pleasure, evoked much emotion and taught me lots over the years - years which seem long in having being lived so well & fully, yet too few in number... But when I mourn today, I don't just feel the absence of a brilliant writer & director, a generous teacher, who had so much more to give & produce. I grieve the loss of this man, whose menschlichkeit has won me over to the point that I should experience his passing as if he'd been known to me beyond all this, even accounting for that strong hook of affinity between second-generation immigrant Londoners, a perspective I felt I could recognize in his work and in his being. More than anything, he showed us so fully and in such exemplary fashion what it means to be a decent, good & honourable human being who maintains high standards in everything, in art as in friendship.
His fair-mindedness, good character & fine sensibilities come through in so many ways which those who actually knew him are talking about today all over the place. Let me just put the spotlight on one aspect of the friendship he offered: his championing of Israeli cinema. In doing so, he took a brave political stance in opposition to the boycotter-types with whom we have become so familiar and he showed much solidarity and friendship in these times when both feel in such short supply. When he headed up the British Film Institute, for instance, London hosted a special season devoted to showcasing Israeli movies. The year before, he'd visited the prestigious Jerusalem Film Festival as guest of honour. The festival's director, Lia van Leer, recalls that he
was so taken with Israel last year that he went back to the UK to open a Jewish film festival there with the declaration "I'm a Zionist." And then, van Leer adds with relish, he went on to London's (ultra-liberal-artsie) National Film Theater, where he was greeted accusingly with jeers of "You're a f***ing Zionist!" [source]
Having spent an enlightening time in Israel at the Jerusalem Film Festival, Minghella told us with a laugh: ‘By adoption I guess I am Jewish now. I’d like to be.’ [source]
A life in pictures (podcast of what was probably his last lecture).