Melbourne filmmaker Cris Jones, whose debut feature, The Death and Life of Otto Bloom, opened the Melbourne International Film Festival last year, has passed away. According to an email from his Otto Bloom producer, Melanie Coombs, he died suddenly last Tuesday as he was preparing to go out for dinner with friends. No cause of death has been announced.
Having already established himself with a string of well-received short films, including The Heisenberg Principle, Excursion, and The Funk, Jones embarked on The Death and Life of Otto Bloom when another project, the ambitious SF film Midnight in Byzantium, lost funding at the last minute. Starring Xavier Samuel, Matilda Brown, and Rachael Ward, Otto Bloom is an intellectually provocative but low-budgeted film that followed the life of the titular character, a man who experiences time in reverse, remembering the future but being unaware of the past. The film did very well on the festival circuit and limited release, and is in competition for the 2017 AACTA Awards.
Jones was an erudite, witty, ambitious, and extremely talented man. His death robs his family and friends of a cherished loved one, and the Australian film industry and public of a singular voice who would doubtless have given us many valuable works over the course of his career. Our thoughts go out to those close to him.