The overall philosophy of every filmmaker, will come through your films- your basic values, what you think a human being’s rights are, will be there. – Hal Ashby
WHY HAL ASHBY?
Between 1970 and 1979, Hal Ashby's films collected seven Academy Awards and 24 Academy Award nominations. They continue to influence generations of directors, actors, and fans. Any time you mention Shampoo, Being There, or Coming Home, the reaction is without fail, impassioned. “That film changed my life!” You hear it over and over again, yet Ashby’s name remains, criminally unknown to the general public, a footnote in film guides and critical studies.
This mind-blowing streak of films easily rivals his more famous contemporaries. His strident rebelliousness in the face of the Hollywood studio system set the course for an unapologetically original body of work. He was a major player in the 1970s Hollywood’s Film Renaissance: its moral ambivalence and political rage, its stylistic audacity and deeply human voice. That he disappeared behind a string of disappointing pictures in the 1980s and died before redeeming his reputation has led many critics to dismiss Ashby. This was a man who gave everything to film, sacrificed his personal relationships, his health, and sometimes his sanity in his devotion to the craft of directing. In making ONCE I WAS we will finally explore the profound impact of Hal Ashby’s body of work on modern cinema, and hope to know the man behind the camera.
Jeffrey S. Wexler, CAS