Director George Hickenlooper was found dead in Denver this morning, according to the Denver Post. He was 47.
Hickenlooper's career was defined by a mix of documentaries and narrative features. He was in Denver to show his latest, 'Casino Jack', at the Starz Denver Film Festival later this week. The film stars Kevin Spacey as notorious political lobbyist Jack Abramoff; after its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, our own Scott Weinberg said that, while the film had "a smart script and some juicy performances from Spacey, Pepper, Kelly Preston, and Jon Lovitz, it's the director's approach to Abramoff's character that sets the film apart."
Before that, Hickenlooper made ''Hick' Town', a film focused on his cousin, John Hickenlooper, as he went through his duties as Denver mayor during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. (The latter reportedly makes a cameo in 'Casino Jack'.) Furthermore, he won a Primetime Emmy for co-directing the great 'Apocalypse Now' documentary 'Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse' in 1991, while his 1994 short 'Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade' was later expanded by star Billy Bob Thornton into a feature -- 'Sling Blade' -- to much acclaim.
An author and one-time intern for legendary producer Roger Corman, Hickenlooper died of natural causes.
[Special thanks to the Portland Oregonian's Shawn Levy.]