Jane Alsobrook, film director, distributor and marketing ace, died this week at her home in Sedona, Arizona, at the age of 78. She was part of the film distribution scene in Australia for a while and captured the hearts of many with her dazzling smile and keen intelligence.
She came to Australia from the United States in 1995 and lived here for six years. She replaced Richard Sheffield as President of REP Film Distribution, then part of the Becker group of companies. Sheffield was leaving to run Polygram Filmed Entertainment’s new Australian / New Zealand office – which meant REP was losing the Polygram product which made it a major distributor at the time.
Becker acquired Dendy Film Distribution from Lyn McCarthy and Graeme Tubbenhauer while Alsobrook was on the payroll, and his role expanded to that of head of distribution. Troy Lum and Mark Gooder were among those she worked with during her time in Australia. Successful acquisitions she was involved in included Emma, Scream, and The Blair Witch Project.
Alsobrook had a lot more to do with Australia than these facts indicate, as her husband was Australian actor and writer Gerard Maguire, in whose arms she died. They met while she was working as senior vice president of marketing and creative advertising at Columbia Pictures. After leaving Columbia, she worked as president of distribution and marketing for Island Pictures, along with fellow Australian Greg Coote.
Astrobrook’s first film work took place in the 1970s at various festivals. This led her to work in distribution and marketing for an independent film giant, filmmaker Roger Corman. She played a big role in the Oscars campaign which saw Frederico Fellini Amarcord win the best foreign language film in 1973.
She entered the big studio world when she co-founded and directed Twentieth Century Fox Classics in the 1980s. Columbia came later and while she was there she was an advisor and board member. from the Sundance Institute.
She has been a key player in the acquisition, distribution and commercialization – and success – of numerous films, both arthouse, including Paris, Texas, The Man from Snowy River, Eat Raoul, The Gods Must Be Crazy, The Last Emperor, Baghdad Café, Mr. Holland’s Opus, The Gods Must Be Crazy, All About My Mother, Amelie, Walking Ned Devine , Brewed and Buena Vista Social Club.
For a short time, she worked at ABC Records, promoting the work of Steely Dan, Pointer Sisters, Crosby and Nash, and many other legends from this period.
Alsobrook was diagnosed with cancer decades ago. At the start of treatment, she helped start the Los Angeles Breast Cancer Alliance and was successful in raising research money from the Clinton administration.
In social media posts, she has been described by friends and colleagues as “a precious”, “a positive force of love and kindness” and “a smiling, radiant and beautiful woman”.
Alsobrook is survived by her husband Maguire, her brother Allen Alsobrook and her niece Isabella and her nephew Forrest.