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CalArts Celebrates the Centenary Year of Film Director and Educator Alexander Mackendrick

Mackendrick was the founding Dean of CalArts’ School of Film in which he taught from 1969 through 1993.

Faculty members and administrators, including President Steven D. Lavine, who knew the educator and director, are available for interviews and can offer their insights into his enduring legacy.

Mackendrick mentored numerous students, such as director James Mangold and producer Thom Mount, who went on to become highly regarded industry professionals.


Alexander Mackendrick, courtesy of the California Institute of the Arts Institute Archive.

Click here for high resolution version of photo.

After distinguishing himself as a director of nine acclaimed films—including madcap comedy The Lady Killers, childhood adventure A High Wind in Jamaica and acidic satire Sweet Smell of Success—Alexander Mackendrick left the film industry and began teaching filmmaking. He became the founding dean of California Institute of the Arts’ (CalArts) School of Film in which he taught from 1969 through 1993 and mentored numerous students who went on to become highly regarded industry professionals including director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, 2007; Walk the Line, 2005) and former President of Universal Pictures and independent producer Thom Mount (Tequila Sunrise, 1988; Natural Born Killers, 1994).  Mackendrick would have been 100 years old on September 8th.

Journalists please note: for stories relating to Mackendrick’s centenary year, CalArts can provide informed interviewees ranging from former colleagues to film scholars who can speak on the impact of his work. Please contact Margaret Crane, CalArts Media Relations Manager, if you would like to arrange an interview: mcrane@calarts.edu, 661.222.2787.

For his centenary year, CalArts’ School of Film Video is planning events in celebration of Mackendrick’s life and work. Scheduled for early February at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater) in downtown Los Angeles, events include special screenings with distinguished guests, interviews and analyses of Mackendrick’s work and its impact (dates and times TBA).  The CalArts Institute Archive will present an exhibition in the CalArts Library of archival materials by and related to Mackendrick, including his writings about the teaching of cinema, rare photos, a selection of his materials written for students, storyboards, and sketches.

It has been said that Mackendrick was the most accomplished narrative feature film director who devoted such an extensive amount of time to teaching and writing about his craft. His influential book On Film-making: An introduction to the craft of the director, edited by Paul Cronin, was developed from the curriculum Mackendrick originated at CalArts and remains the definitive text for today’s students of narrative film direction.

Below is a segment of the documentary, Mackendrick: The Man Who Walked Away. It was made during the director’s tenure at CalArts and features interviews with former students, colleagues and Mackendrick discussing his views on teaching.

Last edited by dthatt on Sep 11, 2012
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