Indie Film Pioneer Dies Suddenly at 54

Lynn Shelton collapsed after being ill for just a week
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2020 2:40 PM CDT
Updated May 17, 2020 4:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – An indie filmmaker known for her ad-lib style and complex female characters died Friday after falling ill only a week ago, the Daily Beast reports. Her name was Lynn Shelton. "I have some awful news," said podcaster and comedian Marc Maron, who was romantically involved with her. "Lynn passed away last night. She collapsed yesterday morning after having been ill for a week. There was a previously unknown, underlying condition. It was not COVID-19. The doctors could not save her. They tried. Hard." Media reports attribute the 54-year-old's death in LA to an undetected blood disorder. They also delve into her late-blooming film career, which grew out of Seattle's creative scene and led to movies like We Go Way Back (2006) and Sword of Trust (2019).

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But it was Humpday, starring Mark Duplass, that made her an indie darling with its Special Jury Prize at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, per the New York Times. "The movie's unblinking observation of a friendship put to the test is amused, queasy making, kindhearted and unfailingly truthful," wrote a Times reviewer. Shelton became a pioneer in the so-called "mumblecore" movement with her low-budget, naturalistic, semi-improvised films; she also directed episodes of TV shows including Master of None, Mad Men, and GLOW, per the LA Times. "Her boundless creative energy and infectious spirit were unrivaled," says Duplass. "She made me better. We butted heads, made up, laughed, pushed each other. Like family. What a deep loss." (Read more obituary stories.)

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