Richard Glatzer dies: A look back at his 'Quinceañera' breakthrough

A look back at the late filmmaker Richard Glatzer's breakthrough film, 'Quinceañera'

Richard Glatzer, the 63-year-old filmmaker who died Tuesday of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is best known for co-writing and co-directing the drama "Still Alice" with his husband, Wash Westmoreland.

In making "Still Alice," the story of a brilliant linguistics professor grappling with early onset Alzheimer's disease, Glatzer and Westmoreland drew on their own experiences with Glatzer's ALS, and the resulting film won lead actress Julianne Moore her first Oscar last month.

Years earlier, Glatzer and Westmoreland similarly channeled elements of their own lives into their breakthrough film, the 2006 indie "Quinceañera." Set in and inspired by Los Angeles' gentrifying Echo Park neighborhood, where the couple moved in the early 2000s, the film weaves together the lives of a Latina teenager coming of age, her tough but troubled cousin and an upwardly mobile gay couple new to the neighborhood.

Glatzer and Westmoreland, who described "Quinceañera" as a story of "what happens when teenage sexuality, age-old rituals and real-estate prices collide," shot the movie on location in their own house and the surrounding area, using friends and neighbors as extras.

An intimate, lived-in drama, "Quinceañera" won both the dramatic prize and the dramatic audience award at the Sundance Film Festival and was picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics.

The film was released in August 2006 and garnered strong reviews, though it never connected with a wide audience. It grossed about $1.7 million (on a budget around $400,000) and topped out in 96 theaters.

Though "Quinceañera" never became a hit, it did set Glatzer and Westmoreland on a path that would ultimately lead to Oscar success. It also accomplished a goal the filmmakers set for themselves.

"We wanted a story that was realistic but at the same time very unusual," Westmoreland told The Times in 2006. "Something that took everyday life and pushed it a little further."

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