Tributes are flooding in for film-maker Anthony Minghella who died suddenly yesterday at the age of 54.
Harvey Weinstein, Minghella's longtime friend, backer and distributor on all his films since The English Patient, issued a statement saying: 'I am shocked and heart broken that we have lost Anthony. He was my mentor, my partner and, most of all, my brother. The grace, joy and tenderness he brought to his films were symbolic of his life and the many people he touched. There are many personal and professional moments we have shared together and I will treasure them for the rest of my life. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beautiful family at this difficult moment.'
Sydney Pollack, Minghella's great friend and business partner in Mirage Enterprises, made the following statement: 'Anthony was a realistic romanticist. A kind of poet, disciplined by reality, an academic by training, a musician by nature, a compulsive reader by habit, and to most observers, a sunny soul who exuded a gentleness that should never have been mistaken for lack of tenacity and resolve. The cliche that you don't know anyone well until you've lived through wars with them, is an absolute truth. Sometimes making films is a form of war. Having weathered several with Anthony, I will tell you that his dignity never softened, his artistry never suffered, and his mind remained as sharp and clear in wartime as it was in quietude.'
Jude Law, who starred in three Minghella-directed films, said: 'I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear of Anthony's untimely death. I worked with him on three films, more than with any other director, but had come to value you him more as a friend than as a colleague. He was a brilliantly talented writer and director who wrote dialogue that was a joy to speak and then put it onto the screen in a way that always looked effortless. He made work feel like fun. He was a sweet, warm, bright and funny man who was interested in everything from football to opera, films, music, literature, people and most of all his family whom he adored and to whom I send my thoughts and love. I shall miss him hugely.'
Another actor who worked with Minghella, Nicole Kidman, said: 'I am devastated. It's really impossible for me to put anything into words. He was a gift to the world.'
Lord Puttnam said the death was a 'shattering blow' to the industry. 'I am shattered. He was a very important person in the film community because not only was he a fine, fine writer... and made the transfer into becoming a really excellent director, he was also a really beautiful man. 'I just spoke to Alan Parker and it was the line Alan used: he was a beautiful man; he was a lot of fun to be with; he was thoughtful and intelligent. 'He's going to be hugely missed. This is a shattering blow from someone who was a major figure in an important industry and had a lot to go on and contribute.'
John Woodward, who is chief executive officer of the UK Film Council, said: 'Anthony was at home in many art forms but ultimately he was one of the great British filmmakers of his generation. He sweated over every frame of every film, but his influence went beyond the films and he was a top ambassador for the industry both in the UK and internationally. As Chairman he laid the foundations for the renaissance of the BFI and he was a brilliant member of the UK Film Council board for five years. Even more importantly he was 100% genuine and he believed in the goodness of others.'
Amanda Nevill, director of the BFI, made the following statement: 'We are incredibly shocked and saddened as Anthony was so hugely loved across the BFI and so greatly admired throughout the film world and across the whole cultural landscape. He was an inspirational and charismatic figure who truly understood the power of film to change our understanding of the world we live in.'
UK prime minister Gordon Brown paid tribute, saying ''He was one of Britain's greatest creative talents, one of our finest screen writers and directors, a great champion of the British film industry and expert on literature and opera.'
Meanwhile former UK prime minister Tony Blair said: 'I am really shocked and very sad. Anthony Minghella was a wonderful human being, creative and brilliant, but still humble, gentle and a joy to be with. Whatever I did with him, personally or professionally, left me with complete admiration for him, as a character and as an artist of the highest calibre.'
Ivor Benjamin, chairman of the Directors Guild of Great Britain, added: 'It is with deep shock and sadness that the Directors Guild of Great Britain has learned of the sudden death of Anthony Minghella. Anthony's work exemplified in every way the very best directorial qualities. Artistically, philosophically, morally and technically he set standards that artists everywhere in the world aspire to - in the cinema, the theatre, in opera and in literature. The fact that he was also an inspiration for millions of audiences and readers who enjoyed and have been inspired by his work is his legacy as a great human being. Those of us who did meet him are proud to have known him, as much as we are desperately sad to have lost his voice and example. Those who didn't will always have his brilliant work to be delighted and moved and inspired by for generations to come. On a personal level, he was a very popular, sensitive, funny, loving man and we send our particular wishes of sorrow to his family and close friends for their own tragic loss.'