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Sarasota 2009 | Preview: Hal Ashby: Mind Of A Hollywood Rebel

Sarasota 2009 | Preview: Hal Ashby: Mind Of A Hollywood Rebel

This past autumn, I met my friend Nick Dawson in Manhattan for a press screening of Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York and a post-screening dinner. Nick was in the throes of completing his book Being Hal Ashby: Life Of A Hollywood Rebel and I learned not only about the book itself, but about Nick’s personal journey in writing it (a story I will save for Nick to convey on his own terms). As the conversation continued, I began thinking about how I might work with Nick to create an event around his book, around Hal Ashby’s work (which, to this day, remains widely underappreciated), and try to use the platform of the Sarasota Film Festival to do something special for one of my favorite filmmakers.

Nick Dawson’s Being Hal Ashby

On April 4, we’re hosting our festival’s annual Filmmaker’s Tribute at the Sarasota Opera House and this year, in addition to awarding our festival’s competition and audience awards, we’re hosting a salute to the life and work of Hal Ashby. We’ve put together a strong retrospective of Ashby’s films, we’re hosting an onstage conversation about Ashby’s life and work with Jon Voight, Burt Young and Illeana Douglas (among others) and we’re creating a Tribute film that draws from many different aspects of Ashby’s life and work. Hal’s daughter Leigh MacManus will be joining us to receive the festival’s Master of Cinema Award (our festival’s highest honor) on her late father’s behalf.

One of this things we’re most excited about? During his research on the book (as I understand it), Nick and Ms. MacManus uncovered a never-before-seen Director’s Cut of Ashby’s Lookin’ To Get Out. With Nick’s help, we contacted Warner Brothers, who had recently transfered the print for an upcoming DVD release of the film (later this spring), and we had an HDCam transfer made. The Director’s Cut of Lookin’ To Get Out screens Friday, April 3 at 7:15 PM and Jon Voight and Burt Young, who star in the film, will be attending the screening and doing a Q&A afterward.

Our good friends over at The Movie Geeks United podcast have already jumped all over this story, interviewing Voight, Young and Nick Dawson for a recent podcast. You can listen here and get ready for what should be a wonderful salute to a great filmmaker.


Harold and Maude, Saturday March 28, 2:00 PM
Shampoo, Sunday, March 29th 12:00 PM
The Last Detail, Tuesday, March 31st 1:00 PM
The Slugger’s Wife, Wednesday, April 1 7:00 PM
Bound For Glory, Thursday April 2, 1:00 PM
The Landlord, Friday April 3, 5:30 PM
Lookin’ To Get Out (The Director’s Cut) Friday, April 3rd, 7:15 PM
Coming Home, Saturday April 4, 12:30 PM
Being There, Sunday, April 5, 2:00 PM

Join us as we salute the life and work of Hal Ashby at the Filmmaker’s Tribute, Saturday April 4, 2009 at 7:00 PM at the Sarasota Opera House.
Jon Voight, Illeana Douglas Burt Young to attend, moderated by Nick Dawson.

Nick Dawson will be signing copies of his new book, Being Hal Ashby: Life of A Hollywood Rebel at Sarasota News and Books on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 11:00 AM.

Hal Ashby (photo by Alexandre Mikitch)

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