Death of William Friedkin (1935-2023)

The director William Friedkin passed away on Monday 7 August at the age of 87. We had the pleasure of welcoming him to the Festival in 2017 and send our condolences and good wishes to his family and friends.

Friedkin embodied the spirit and radicalism of 1970s American cinema and was a pillar of what’s known as the New Hollywood, which included such greats as Scorsese, Coppola, Spielberg, Cimino and De Palma. He upset the codes of the crime thriller with The French Connection and set a benchmark for horror cinema with The Exorcist, which went on to win several Oscars. He made other bold choices with Sorcerer, his hypnotic remake of The Wages of Fear, shot in extreme conditions, and Cruising, in which Al Pacino plays one of his most memorable roles.

A lover of works of art and opera, he very much admired a copy of the painting depicting Rouget de L’isle declaiming La Marseillaise in the salons of Strasbourg City Hall. He was also quick to point out that while he loved the films of Fritz Lang and Orson Welles, he adored the musicals of the 1950s too.

A giant has departed to join what he called the “Movie Gods” but has bequeathed us some superb films that will continue to nourish the minds and souls of younger generations of cinema lovers.

R.I.P Billy Friedkin.