Oscar-winning filmmaker John Korty died March 9, 2022, at his home in Point Reyes Station, CA. He was 85. His Antioch College BA was in Communications Media.
In 2016 he was honored with the Antioch College Rebecca Rice Award, which recognizes alumni of Antioch College who by their actions, achievements, and leadership have distinguished themselves and their alma mater.
Mr. Korty was known for his independent films, many made in Marin during the rise of the Bay Area filmmaking scene known as the “New Hollywood.”
Mr. Korty moved to California in the 1960s. His independent film “Crazy Quilt,” released in 1966, won critical acclaim and drew young filmmakers George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola to Northern California to visit Mr. Korty’s Stinson Beach studio. Mr. Korty later established a studio that operated for 20 years in Mill Valley.
Mr. Korty projects included television films such as “Go Ask Alice” and ”The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” for which he won an Emmy award for direction and a Directors Guild of America award. His animated shorts were featured on episodes of “Sesame Street.”
Mr. Korty won an Oscar alongside Dan McCann and Warren L. Lockhart, and an Emmy for outstanding individual achievement for an informational program, for the documentary film “Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?” released in 1977.
He was described by film critic Leonard Maltin as “a principled filmmaker who has worked both outside and within the mainstream, attempting to find projects that support his humanistic beliefs.”
Mill Valley Film Festival Executive Director Mark Fishkin called Mr. Korty “a terrific gentleman, and an accomplished filmmaker in almost every genre.”
“John was clearly the impetus of a new generation of filmmakers that came to San Francisco,” Fishkin said.
In an interview reflecting on his body of work in 2011, Mr. Korty said “I like variety. I like to go from comedy to serious films to animation. “To me, my work is a kind of vacation, and I don’t like to go to the same place over and over again,” he said.
Mr. Korty was born in Lafayette, Indiana and attended Antioch College in Ohio. He lived in Point Reyes Station for the last 30 years of his life.
He is survived by his wife Jane Sylvia, three children Jonathan, David and Gabriel Korty and siblings Doug and Nancy Korty.
In his spare time, Mr. Korty would row a boat in Tomales Bay. Before he died, he was still putting together local films he never finished, Jane Sylvia said.
“He loved the town of Point Reyes Station, and he was really happy living in this community,” she said.
Gabriel Korty remembered his father’s interest in human rights and connections, his ability as a parent and love for West Marin.
”He was very committed to his work,” he said. “He was kind of forward thinking, and creative from such an early age … ahead of his time in many ways.”