HASKELL WEXLER AT 100
March 29, 2022, 7:00 P.M.
The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007
In honor of Haskell Wexler's Centenary, the USC School of Cinematic Arts,
and USC Visions & Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative,
invite you to attend
HASKELL WEXLER AT 100
Featuring Screenings of Rebel Citizen (2015)
and Shoot from the Heart (2022)
Followed by a Panel Discussion about the life, politics, and legacy of Haskell Wexler,
with Haskell's wife Rita Taggart, in conversation with Filmmakers Alan Barker, Joan Churchill,
Lisa Leeman, and Dr. Michael Renov, Haskell Wexler Endowed Chair in Documentary
7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, March 29th, 2022
The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
George Lucas Building, School of Cinematic Arts Complex
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007
FREE ADMISSION. OPEN TO ALL USC STUDENTS, FACULTY, STAFF,
ALUMNI, AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC.
ALL GUESTS MUST COMPLETE A TROJAN CHECK CAMPUS DAY PASS ONLINE IN ORDER TO ENTER CAMPUS AND BE ADMITTED INTO THE THEATER -- MORE DETAILS BELOW.
CLICK HERE TO RSVP
Presented as part of the Haskell Wexler Centenary at the USC School of Cinematic Arts throughout March 2022
About Rebel Citizen (2015)
Directed by Pamela Yates. Produced by Paco de Onis.
Running time: 76 minutes.
Rebel Citizen takes you on a revelatory tour of two time Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler’s political documentary work, letting the veteran artist and activist share his vision of how to be a citizen in the world.
In Rebel Citizen, Wexler speaks with lucidity and a candor that can only come with hard-won experience and the wisdom of age, about his progressive political beliefs and his artistry. “There are a lot of ways to look at the world,” says Wexler, “that may not be presented to us as the important things.” In Rebel Citizen we see the world through Wexler’s eyes, as he narrates his self-evolution as an artist and an activist. You’ll hear about one of his first documentaries, The Bus from 1963, filmed with civil rights activists as they traveled the country on their way to the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. This film has great resonance today with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
He speaks extensively about the groundbreaking Medium Cool, one of the original hybrid films, where he filmed his actors in the midst of the police riot at the Democratic National Convention in 1968; and you’ll find out that when Haskell filmed Underground, about the radical Weather Underground fugitives, it cost him his job as cinematographer on “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” when the FBI came to the set to investigate him.
More than a retrospective of a master’s work, however, Rebel Citizen asks the question, “What does it mean to be a patriot?” Haskell does not see his critiques of the U.S. government as antithetical to being a patriot–they are, in fact what make him patriotic. “I don’t critique our government per se, I ask the government, ‘Who do you represent? Do you represent the people? Or do you represent private interests?” Yates’ intimate interview style with Wexler’s blunt and at times irreverent answers make for a fascinating dialogue on political documentaries, and the commitment every American citizen should make towards bettering the United States. “I’m not ready to give our country away to anybody, you know?” says Wexler, “and that’s it.”
About Shoot from the Heart (2022)
Directed by Joan Churchill and Alan Barker. Produced by Joan Churchill. Running time: 26 minutes.
Shoot from the Heart is a short film centered around a rollicking evening with Haskell Wexler, D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, Nick Doob and Joan Churchill. We debate about cinematic representation, whether it’s possible to capture reality, how the camera affects a situation and whether or not there is such a thing as objectivity.
We shot the dinner in a participatory manner, sometimes passing the camera from person to person. This is not a traditional doc with an invisible director whose questions have been cut out. Everyone present becomes a part of the film.
Penny, who was possibly the greatest vérité shooter of all time, states that when he’s shooting he doesn’t think, he’s “like a cat watching a room full of people. And when people say, how do you decide?… I’m in there floating in that camera, watching what goes on. Sometimes I feel a little guilty, like I don’t take responsibility, like the painter who doesn’t look at the canvas while he paints.” Haskell defines what art is for him in a deeply emotional moment.
The film is an introduction to Haskell who Churchill and Alan Barker followed during the last ten years of his life. He was not an easy film subject. Haskell, the great cinematographer, was averse to being in front of the camera and he definitely did not want to be seen with a film crew tagging alongside.
Shoot from the Heart is the first act in a long form work which will consist of many encounters we filmed, each a free standing ‘chapter.’ We want audiences to share a moment in the rich lives of these two iconic filmmakers, Haskell and Penny - no longer with us.
- Joan Churchill & Alan Barker
About Haskell Wexler
2022 marks the centenary of cinematographer and filmmaker Haskell Wexler. One of the greatest image-makers in Hollywood history, Wexler's many films as cinematographer include The Best Man (1964), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), In the Heat of the Night (1967), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Bound for Glory (1976), Coming Home (1978) and Matewan (1987). Winner of Academy Awards for his work on Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Bound for Glory, Wexler is perhaps best known for Medium Cool, the groundbreaking feature he wrote and directed in 1969. In 1985, he wrote and directed another politically acute independent feature, Latino. Alongside these feature films, over a period of several decades he also created a powerful body of political documentary cinema, notably The Bus (1965), Introduction to the Enemy (1974), Underground (1976), and Brazil: A Report on Torture. A principled man of great conscience, beloved by his fellow cameramen and women, Wexler's 100th birthday will be marked at USC by a series of screenings and a panel discussion.
In 2016, the George Lucas Family Foundation graciously funded The Haskell Wexler Endowed Chair in Documentary. Dr. Michael Renov, Vice Dean of Acadmic Affairs at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, is the inaugural Chairholder.
About the Guests
Rita Taggart has been an actress most of her life. Through the years Taggart has morphed into characters of all stripes. For her it has always been about the process, the discovery of the author’s intent, and finding the key to conveying that intent.
She began working in San Francisco in the late 60’s with Project Artaud, The Julien Theatre, and Comedia Del Arte. With Comedia she came under the tutelage of Carlo Mazzoni-Clemente, a master teacher. He taught her the power of the small gesture, the moment’s magic and the importance of history in developing as an actor.
Taggart moved to Los Angeles in 1975 to make acting her full time career. She joined the Harvey Lembeck Comedy Workshop. She had the opportunity to learn from and work with John Ritter, Robin Williams and older comics like Phil Foster. “We weren’t coddled but we were nurtured there. It was a petri-dish of self-discovery. You had to jump off the diving board.”
During this period she got her first union job on a television series called RHODA. She also got her first film job STRAIGHT TIME with Dustin Hoffman. From 1976 until the present, Rita Taggart has worked as a professional actress. Some of her roles: Joan Foley in ALMOST GROWN, ABC series, Edna Hancock recurring on NORTHERN EXPOSURE, Lillian Binginton in WEEDS with Nick Nolte, and Ruthann on the series Coach.
COMING HOME is a favorite. A project of substance with Hal Ashby and Haskell Wexler as cinematographer. Wexler and Taggart’s paths would continue to cross until 1984. Then began a lasting relationship and marriage.”We lasted in a tough business and we made each other better.”
She was proud to do some work as a cinematographer on Wexler’s documentary WHO NEEDS SLEEP? “He actually used most of my shots.” And it’s a film that still resonates. For Taggart every job is like another adventure. "You can’t know what will happen and you can’t control it." She is a member of Rogue Machine Theater Company and a student.
Life is the best teacher, you just have to get out there and hang on.
ALAN BARKER, Director/Editor - Shoot from the Heart
Alan Barker began working in film as a news cameraman for KEYT in Santa Barbara at age 17. He later studied psychology at Los Angeles City College and UCLA then graduated with a degree in motion picture production in 1969. He co-founded Ramsgate Films where he produced and directed educational films with partner Vaughn Obern. He studied acting and directing under Jack Garfein at The Actors & Directors Lab in Los Angeles. Alan founded and directed the improvisational theater group Raw Material and performed in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s. During the ’80’s and ’90’s he worked mainly as a freelance documentary camera and sound person for British, Dutch, Japanese and other foreign broadcasters. He has worked extensively in Africa, Asia, South America and the US. Alan also worked extensively in commercials as a sound recordist during that period. Beginning in the 80’s he partnered with Joan Churchill specializing in Vérité production. He was an adjunct professor at ArtCenter College of Design and now lectures on documentary-related topics. Alan and Joan lead workshops on Vérité theory and technique.
JOAN CHURCHILL, Director/Producer/DP/Editor - Shoot from the Heart
A graduate of UCLA Film School, Churchill began her career doing camera work on a series of music films – including such seminal classics as “Gimme Shelter,” a Maysles film, “No Nukes,” directed by Haskell Wexler and Barbara Kopple and “Hail, Hail Rock and Roll,” directed by Taylor Hackford. Churchill also directed and photgraphed “Jimi Plays Berkeley,” now a cult classic, and spent seven months shooting on the PBS series, “An American Family,” the definitive verite study of dysfunctional family life.
She was cinematographer on the Peter Watkins’ recently re-released feature, “Punishment Park,” a film about escalating domestic turmoil as the Viet Nam war dragged on. The film was controversial largely because audiences didn’t realize it was fiction. She also shot a second Watkins film in Denmark called “Eveningland.”
Churchill was invited to teach at the National Film School in England where she took up residence for ten years. A long-term collaboration began with Nick Broomfield, resulting in a number of highly acclaimed films they co-directed. “Juvenile Liaison” exposed the harsh practices of a British police crime prevention program in the schools. Fifteen years later, they revisited the subjects of this film in a follow-up, “Juvenile Liaison 2.” “Tattooed Tears” documents the indignity of life inside a California maximum security prison. “Soldier Girls,” released theatrically & winner of the BAFTA Award, follows a platoon of women through the agonies of basic training. “Lily Tomlin,” also released theatrically, chronicles the evolution of Tomlin’s Broadway hit, ‘The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.’ She also shot on Broomfield’s “Kurt & Courtney,” and was D.P. on “Biggie & Tupac” and “His Big White Self.”
Churchill also continued directing/shooting her own films including “One Generation More” for the BBC about an Estonian family rediscovering their Jewish roots in the shadow of communism; “Asylum,” an Emmy-nomination for HBO, reveals life inside a prison for the criminally insane; “Arrested Development in the House,” a Channel 4 feature length road movie about the Grammy-winning hiphop group, Arrested Development.
She worked on two American TV vérité series, producing and shooting a 13 part show for TLC, called “Residents,” shot at UCLA hospital over a one year period. This series and “American High,” (A PBS Emmy Award winning series also shot and produced by Churchill) were for R.J. Cutler of Actual Reality.
Churchill shot and co-directed “Aileen Wuornos: Life & Death of a Serial Killer” with Broomfield. Theatrically released and shown on HBO, the film is about a tragic life that led to madness, the death of seven men and finally execution. The film won first prize at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Amnesty International-Doen Award.
LISA LEEMAN, SCA Professor, Co-Director - Who Needs Sleep?
Lisa Leeman believes that strong narrative and character-driven films can change the world, one story at a time, and agrees with Roger Ebert that film is a powerful "empathy machine."
Lisa is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and has served as a judge at the Sundance Film Festival, the president of the International Documentary Association, and on the boards of the IDA and the National Coalition of Independent Public Broadcasting Producers. She teaches Intermediate Producing, Documentary Producing, Conceptualizing & Development, Writing non-fiction, Editing, and Visual Communication. Leeman serves as a film expert for the American Film Showcase, and has taught master classes on documentary filmmaking in China, Portugal, Jordan, the West Bank, Malawi, and the Republic of Georgia.
Leeman has produced, directed, written & edited award-winning feature & short documentaries for the last twenty-five years. Calling her films ‘sideways social- issue films,’ she specializes in illuminating contemporary social issues through character-driven stories that follow people at critical turning points in their lives. Her work has been seen on PBS, HBO, Discovery, ARTE, and in theaters and festivals worldwide. Awards include Sundance's Filmmakers Trophy for her directorial debut, Metamorphosis (POV, PBS, 1990), cited as the first American film to chronicle a gender transition, and an Emmy nomination for her short Fender Philosophers. She is a frequent moderator and panelist at documentary and independent filmmaking events.
Leeman is currently in post-production on Walk by Me, a sequel to her groundbreaking first film, Metamorphosis, following the film’s transgender animation artist at a new crossroads, twenty-five years after the release of Metamorphosis.
She most recently co-wrote, co-produced, and co-directed the award-winning feature documentary Awake, about the influential Indian swami Paramahansa Yogananda (author of the classic Autobiography of a Yogi). Awake screened theatrically for 48 weeks in the U.S. and grossed over $1.5 million dollars at the box office, screening in over 220 markets. It is one of only 17 films directed by women in the 250 top-grossing films of 2014. Unusual for a documentary, it screened theatrically in 17 countries, including India, France, Germany, Brazil, and Mexico.
Roger Ebert named Leeman’s One Lucky Elephant as one of the best documentaries of 2011. That film premiered at LAFF and IDFA, was released theatrically, broadcast on OWN as part of Oprah Winfrey's Documentary of the Month Club, and was selected for the U.S. State Department's American Documentary Showcase.
Other notable works include directing the feature doc Out of Faith (PBS) & producing the feature doc Crazy Wisdom: The Life & Times of Chogyam Trunga (2011, Alive Mind Cinema). Lisa has collaborated with many acclaimed filmmakers, including Haskell Wexler, the renowned cinematographer with whom she co-directed Who Needs Sleep (Sundance, 2006).
Lisa spent a decade writing and editing award-winning social issue documentaries, including the acclaimed Made in LA, and films for noted documentary directors Stanley Nelson; Renee Tajima-Pena; Michele Ohayon; Micha Peled; Lourdes Portillo; and others. Lisa's work has been supported by the once-in-a-lifetime American Film Institute’s Independent Filmmaker Grant; the Sundance Institute, the Catapult Film Fund, California Humanities Council, a Western States Media Arts Fellowship; the National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Pacific Mountain Network, and California Arts Council, and the Center for Cultural Innovation, and USC's Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities & Social Sciences initiative.
DR. MICHAEL RENOV, SCA Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and
Haskell Wexler Endowed Chair in Documentary
Michael Renov, professor of Critical Studies and Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, is the author of Hollywood's Wartime Woman: Representation and Ideology and The Subject of Documentary, editor of Theorizing Documentary, and co-editor of Resolutions: Contemporary Video Practices, Collecting Visible Evidence, The SAGE Handbook of Film Studies and Cinema’s Alchemist: The Films of Peter Forgacs.
In 1993, Renov co-founded Visible Evidence, a series of international and highly interdisciplinary documentary studies conferences that have, to date, been held on five continents. He is one of three general editors for the Visible Evidence book series at the University of Minnesota Press, which has published 27 volumes on various aspects of nonfiction media since 1997. In 2005, he co-programmed the 51st annual Robert Flaherty Seminar, a week-long gathering of documentary filmmakers, curators, and educators, creating 20 screening programs and filmmaker dialogues on the theme "Cinema and History."
In addition to curating documentary programs around the world, he has served as a jury member at documentary festivals including Sundance, Silverdocs, the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival, Brazil's It's All True, the International Environmental Festival of Film and Video, also in Brazil, and DocLisboa in Portugal. He has taught graduate seminars at the University of Stockholm, Tel Aviv University and Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and has led documentary workshops in Jordan for the Royal Film Commission and in Cyprus. Renov's teaching and research interests include documentary theory, autobiography in film and video, video art and activism, and representations of the Holocaust.
About USC Trojan Check
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