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We were saddened to learn of Joel E. Siegel’s death last week. We had lost touch with him in the last few years, but he was our “cultural mentor” ever since we came to Washington in 1968. We devoured his always incisive film and music reviews in the D.C. Gazette, Washington Newsworks, and the Washington City Paper, and also took a number of the film courses that he gave at the American Film Institute and the Smithsonian on such diverse subjects as the American movie musical and the films of Bengali director Satyajit Ray.
He immensely influenced our love and appreciation of film and also introduced us to Shirley Horn and other aspects of American popular music.
His film reviews are far and away the most cogent, sensible, and sensitive that we know, and his writing was extraordinarily graceful.
He had a long and lasting impact on our life in Washington, and we will miss his presence in the D.C. cultural scene tremendously.