The profession of cinematography has lost one of its most respected ambassadors in the death at 93 of Haskell Wexler. Despite (perhaps because of) his privileged background there has been no greater champion of the fight for the welfare of all film workers. Through the effective use of his camera he fought throughout his life against injustice and oppression. His images became his weapon from the unforgettable Bound for Glory to Who Needs Sleep.
Haskell was a great friend of IMAGO. He was no stranger to the principles of solidarity and International co-operation and appreciated and encouraged our objectives. Many members of the Federation will have indelible memories of this wiry man with his baseball cap greeting delegates as they registered for the First International Conference of the ASC at the club house in Los Angeles four years ago. Was that really the great Haskell Wexler filming us hand held? A legend in his own time taking the trouble at ninety years of age to film mere mortals, even as Vilmos Zsigmond looked on in amusement enquiring “when are the foreigners arriving?”. Neither will any of us forget his head to head confrontation with Steven Poster, creeping closer and closer across the table as temper rose between old adversaries.
This was the man who won the last Oscar warded for black and white for «Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?»: the man who had fittingly picked up an Oscar in 1970 for “Interviews with Mai Lai Veterans.” The man who had shot films as diverse as «In the Heat of the Night», «American Graffiti», «Brazil»: a report on Torture, and Interview with President Allende, the Swine Flu Caper, Target Nicaragua: Inside a Secret War.
He epitomised the soul of America. Generous and selfless he honoured IMAGO by giving Master Classes in Denmark and appearances at Camerimage. When permission was asked to show «Who Needs Sleep» he without hesitation gave IMAGO the rights to show any of his films. He was an inspiration, for whose life all of us can be thankful.
Many will be saying:
“Goodbye, dear Haskell, it was our privilege to have known and loved you.”
Our sympathy to his wife Rita, who accompanied him on his visits to Europe, his daughter Kathy and his sons Mark and Jeff.
Nigel Walters BSC Vice President