Celebrating Curtis Hanson

On Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, UCLA Film & Television Archive hosted “Curtis Hanson — A Celebration of His Work with UCLA,” which was held at UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood.

Filmmaker Hanson, who passed away on Sept. 20, 2016, at the age of 71, was the honorary chairman of UCLA Film & Television Archive and an executive board member at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Filmmaker Christopher Nolan provided the evening’s opening remarks, which featured a screening of In a Lonely Place (1950), starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. Hanson’s partner, Rebecca Yeldham, introduced the film, a favorite of Hanson’s and one that influenced his work through the years.

After the screening, UCLA TFT alumnus Alexander Payne hosted a conversation with actress Kim Basinger and production designer Jeannine Oppewall, both of who had worked with Hanson on L.A. Confidential (1997); and director of photography Roger Elswit, a close personal friend, who lensed Hanson’s The River Wild (1994).

Curtis Lee Hanson was born March 24, 1945, in Reno, Nevada and grew up in Los Angeles. He left high school in his senior year and worked as a freelance photographer and editor for Cinema magazine. Hanson often referred to his years of journalism as his “film school” and credited interviews with many Hollywood greats — John Ford, William Wyler, Ida Lupino, Don Siegel, Dalton Trumbo, Samuel Fuller — as inspiring his own filmmaking.

In the 1990s, Hanson rose to prominence with an eclectic slate of films including The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992), The River Wild, and his greatest critical success, L.A. Confidential, which was nominated for nine Academy Awards and named to the National Film Registry in 2015. He more recently directed and produced Wonder Boys (2000), 8 Mile (2002) and In Her Shoes (2005), and portrayed Meryl Streep’s husband in Adaptation (2002).

Hanson accepted the position of honorary chairman of UCLA Film & Television Archive in January 1999. He served as a passionate and committed champion of film preservation, as well as a tireless advocate for the Archive’s cultural mission of theatrical exhibition and research.

Hanson might be best remembered by Los Angeles cinephiles for hosting the Archive’s long-running film series, "The Movie That Inspired Me," a program that he personally curated. Beginning in May 1999 with cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, he invited leading artists from all areas of filmmaking to share with an audience a film that directly influenced their creative lives.

“The idea grew out of loving movies and talking about them with other people who love movies,” said Hanson in 2002. “And the films that are the most fun to talk about are not necessarily the classics, but those that had a personal impact on people when they saw them.”

"The Movie That Inspired Me" was tailor-made for Hanson and drew upon his unique set of talents and interests — an impressive knowledge of film history, natural interview skills, experience behind the camera and, above all, an irrepressible curiosity — to create unforgettable conversations. Artists who shared a film and joined him in conversation include Dede Allen, Drew Barrymore, Kathryn Bigelow, James L. Brooks, Roger Deakins, Robert Downey Jr., David Fincher, Carrie Fisher, Ray Harryhausen, Todd Haynes, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Charlie Kaufman, Diane Keaton, John Lasseter, Michael Mann, Christopher Nolan, Jeannine Oppewall, Alexander Payne, Sean Penn, Sam Raimi and Lily Tomlin.

Hanson served on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was the first recipient of the Film Preservation Award bestowed by The Film Foundation and the Directors Guild of America in 2003.

The newly established Curtis Hanson Fund at UCLA supports the public events and moving image preservation work of UCLA Film & Television Archive. To make a gift online, please visit For more information, call (310) 825-2350.


 Posted: February 9, 2017