Remembering Gilberto Perez

The Sarah Lawrence community pays tribute to Gil Perez (Film History, 1983-2015)

Gilberto Perez was an acclaimed theorist, eloquent critic, and passionate devotee of film art—an inspiring sage who honed his ideas and gave generously of his knowl-edge at Sarah Lawrence for more than 30 years. A native of Cuba, Perez worked as a caricaturist at a newspaper in Havana, earned his bachelor’s degree in physics at MIT and his master’s at Princeton, and taught film at Harvard before finding his home here at the College in 1983.

Perez was that exceptional figure known as much for his thoughtful intelligence, subtle wit, and deep curiosity as he was for his compassionate manner, coveted guidance, and personal and professional loyalty. While his absence on campus will long be mourned, we are grateful that his diverse contributions will continue to enrich our lives.

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Up Front

A first person remembrance about Gilberto Perez by SLC President Karen Lawrence.
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Malcolm Turvey (film history faculty)

Gil’s work transcended film criticism, which is why it made such an impact on film scholarship. While critics typically attend to the particular film or filmmaker, and scholars specialize in narrow subfields, Gil was fascinated by film as a medium. … Hence, in his teaching and writing, he dedicated himself to better understanding the broad capacities and features that make film a distinctive art.”

David Netto ’92

“Conversations with Gil could be terrifying. Not because of his intelligence—which he never, ever used to intimidate anyone—but because of the extremely deliberate pace with which he expressed himself. It was elegance, that verbal slow motion. … One of the most rewarding things about being his donnee was having conversations sustained enough to be able to make him laugh.”

Angel Moger (french faculty emerita)

“His generosity and interest in the work of others was as consistent as his productivity. … Gil was an aristocrat in every facet of his engagement with others; his kindness and decency were addressed to everyone, and were part of what made him so beloved.”

Maria Negroni (spanish faculty)

“I can’t recall how many films we saw together, but … we used to meet at those nonconventional venues that still cherish art films … encountering many times old students of Gil’s, who were always thrilled to see him and eager to tell him what they had done after graduation. … The best part of these evenings was the conversation that followed.”

Anthony Verone '17

He was, perhaps, the most cherished of all dons, and in many ways represented everything a good don should be. ... He made us all, in his gentle, unfussy way, want to work a little harder, and dream a little bigger. ... He was someone I wanted to impress.”

William Park (literature faculty emeritus)

“The great French critic Andre Bazin’s collected essays posed the question: Qu’est-ce que le cinema? (What is Cinema?) ... More than any other writer, [Gil] answered the question.”

The Sarah Lawrence community gathered to remember Gilberto Perez at a memorial service on February 20. Several tributes are also shared online: