In Memoriam: Lou Florimonte

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Update: The Film Directing Program’s Showcase screening on May 3 will be dedicated to Lou Florimonte’s memory, with a prescreening gathering in the REDCAT Lounge at 6:30 pm, a tribute by former Film/Video faculty Deborah LaVine and Lou’s family in attendance. Film/Video faculty, staff, alumni, and friends are invited to join the gathering. More info.

The CalArts community mourns the loss of beloved teacher and alumnus Lou Florimonte (Film/Video MFA 77), who passed away last month. He taught in the School of Theater and then the School of Film/ Video from 1979 until his retirement from CalArts in 2005.

Lou began his career as a journalist and playwright, then worked in television before becoming head of the theater program and chairman of Communications Arts at the Lindenwood Colleges in St. Charles, Missouri. His work was produced off-off-Broadway, and he came to CalArts to pursue his MFA in 1977.

In 1985, he co-founded the Directing for Theater, Video and Cinema Program (DTVC) with Alexander Mackendrick and Gill Dennis and served as program head from 1994 to his retirement. The program began with a single student and evolved into today’s Film Directing Program; nearly 20 years after his departure, his teaching and his example remain fundamental to the program.

Lou was an inspiring, profoundly empathetic teacher. He taught all aspects of filmmaking and directing, grounding all his work in a profound understanding of structure and character as well as an insistence on rigorous self-examination and constant revision. His affable, loving approach always demonstrated that there is great joy in the hard work of creation.

His tireless dedication to his students—he seemed to put as much of himself into his responses to their work as they had in its creation—was rewarded with fierce devotion. Generations of screenwriters and directors cite him as fundamental to their practice.

After his retirement, Lou and his wife Alex resettled in Denver and then Santa Cruz. He was devoted to his sons Arik and Cory and grandson Shane. He continued writing and cooking (and helped former students with their new projects), even after his 2011 diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease. Lou lived his whole life with courage, intentionality, and love. Perhaps it was these qualities that allowed him to live even the challenging final years of his life with such fortitude.

The Film Directing Showcase screening on May 3 at REDCAT is dedicated to his memory. His family would be grateful for contributions to EASE PD, Inc, the local Parkinson’s nonprofit in Santa Cruz, or to the Michael J Fox Foundation, which supports essential on-going research toward a cure of the disease.

—CalArts School of Film/Video

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