In Memoriam – Raul Antonio Davalos


Raul Antonio Davalos, ACE, passed away peacefully on Oct. 23 at Providence Saint Joseph Hospital in Burbank, surrounded by friends and family. He was 62.

Diagnosed in December 2016 with an aggressive form of brain and lung cancer, he fought it bravely.

He is survived by his wife, Cindy Fret; daughter Alina and son Alex with his first wife, Petra; and brother Mario, who flew in from the Dominican Republic to be by his side.

Raul was on his third season as film editor for the television series, Empire, at the time of his death. He worked with his wife as his assistant on the series since the show’s debut. He and Cindy met on Gilmore Girls in 2003 where he worked on the entire sevenseason run from 2000-2007, cutting 52 episodes. They would have celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary on New Year’s Eve.

Raul was born into a distinguished family in Havana, Cuba. His great-grandfather was president of the island nation before the revolution. They fled during the Communist takeover, arriving in Miami on Halloween night 1960 when Raul was five years old.

They settled in Key Biscayne for an “ideal childhood,” said his brother. After graduating from Loyola University in New Orleans, where Raul was the campus radio DJ, he attended The London International Film School in England. There, his mentor who had worked with John Ford, confirmed what Raul had discovered on his own: “The editor’s chair is the best seat in the house, kid.”

Raul joined ACE in September 2001, with sponsorship letters from Carol Littleton, ACE, Norman Buckley, ACE, and David
Siegel, ACE, and was an active member for 16 years. He contributed to the Membership Committee, where he was a clear voice for fairness and diversity, and the Internship Program. He also taught film editing at the Inner-City Filmmaker’s summer workshops in L.A. and was a charter member and lecturer for the young filmmakers program at his Miami high school, Belen Jesuit Prep, founded in Havana by Queen Isabella II of Spain in 1854.

Raul joined the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2016 with sponsorship letters from members Bonnie Koehler, ACE, and Lisa Zeno Churgin, ACE. It was while working with Littleton on director Larry Kasdan’s The Accidental Tourist (1988) that Raul had the epiphany that an editor could create a scene that was “an aria, pure cinema, pure emotion.”

Raul worked with Carol for almost 20 years as an apprentice, assistant and then associate film editor on Kasdan’s films beginning with Silverado (1985) and including Wyatt Earp (1994).
On Dreamcatcher (2003) he was the co-editor with Carol. Raul’s credits also include Taylor Hackford’s Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll (1987); Benny & Joon (1993), starring Johnny Depp; China Moon (1991), which was directed by John Bailey; and Meet Wally Sparks (1997), starring Rodney Dangerfield.

His solo feature credits include Cronos (1993) for director Guillermo del Toro, Via Dolorosa (2000), again for Bailey; and The Amateurs (2005) for director Michael Traeger as well as a long list of television films and additional prime-time episodic series including Amazing Stories. Raul dedicated his career to reaching the level of artistry of his inspiring mentors.

Raul might have told you that his proudest editorial achievement was as film editor of the award-winning indie, The Way, which was given a standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010. The film was written and directed by Emilio Estevez and shot on location along the Camino in northern Spain. Raul loved character-driven stories that, in his words, “reflect and contribute to our human experience.”

To be acquainted with Raul Antonio Davalos, ACE, contributed to the human experience of all of us who had the honor of knowing him. We, his colleagues in ACE, often said that he was one of the kindest people we had ever had the pleasure of meeting. He shall be remembered and deeply missed. He plans on starting a film festival in heaven with Kubrick, his favorite director, and invites us all to join them some day. –Bonnie Koehler, ACE