A central figure of the New Hollywood generation, which transformed American cinema in the 1970s, writer-director Paul Schrader has pursued a galvanizing, fiercely personal brand of filmmaking for over 30 years. While a graduate student in the film program at UCLA, Schrader began writing criticism for the L.A. Free Press where he extolled the virtues of cinematic influences ranging from John Ford to Robert Bresson to Charles Eames. After being famously fired for panning Easy Rider (1969), Schrader made the leap to filmmaking in spectacular fashion in 1974 when his script for The Yakuza, co-written with his brother Leonard, sold to Warner Bros. for a record sum. It was, however, his groundbreaking script for Taxi Driver (1976) that cemented his reputation for challenging, controversial material. He made his directorial debut two years later with Blue Collar (1978), followed by visionary films that helped define the cinema of their decade, including American Gigolo (1980), Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), Light Sleeper (1992), Affliction (1997) and Auto Focus (2002). Alienation and estrangement, from society and their own selves, frequently overwhelm Schrader’s outsider characters, often with violent consequences. Working largely as an independent, Schrader himself has navigated the shifting tides of the film industry and survived seemingly through sheer force of will. As filmmakers of his generation either fell away or increasingly turned Hollywood, Schrader, a distinguished UCLA alumnus, has remained stubbornly steadfast in his commitment to a personal cinema. UCLA Film & Television Archive is thrilled to present this retrospective as recognition of Schrader’s remarkable career in conjunction with the release of his latest film, The Canyons (2013), and in acknowledgement of his recent donation of his personal print collection to the Archive.
Special thanks to: William McDonald, chair, UCLA Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media, Shani Ankori, IFC Films.
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