Renowned movie producer and financier Jake Eberts whose many credits include films which won 37 Oscars died this morning in his hometown of Montreal following a brief illness, according to the Montreal Gazette. He was 71. Respected and resourceful, Eberts based in London for a time financed many of the great indie productions which the majors wouldn’t greenlight. Indeed he funded and/or produced more than 50 films including Chariots of Fire, Gandhi, The Killing Fields, Dances With Wolves, Driving Miss Daisy, The Dresser, Local Hero, A River Runs Through It, Black Robe, Ocean, Chicken Run, The Illusionist and Grey Owl. He also worked to find financing for a who’s who of filmmakers and talents including Robert Redford, Ben Kingsley, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Beresford, Richard Attenborough, Pierce Brosnan, and Albert Finney. “He was an extraordinary film producer and an extraordinary man,” Montreal director Denys Arcand told the Montreal Gazette. “He took filmmaking seriously. He felt cinema should be used to better mankind. This is a lofty standard in an age where movies are being adapted from comic books. He had such noble ideals and morals.”
He is the author of the autobiography, My Indecision Is Final. According to his official bio, Eberts was a chemical engineer by trade who earned an MBA from Harvard and then worked as a Wall Street investment banker just as independent film was exploding and needed financing. ”There was a niche in the market, and I happened to be at the right place at the right time,” Ebert is quoted as saying. “I was living in London and there was an explosion of talent taking place there. It was just a stroke of good fortune for me.” Founder of Goldcrest Films and later Allied Filmmakers, Eberts was spending his time between Montreal and Paris. Reports say Eberts was developing the IMAX documentary Jerusalem slated for release in 2013 and also a $60-million film project in China.