The following introduction to the Program Notes for
Richard Kaplan‘s retrospective at MoMa gives an excellent brief overview of my professional life and work.
Richard Kaplan: Wayfarer and Truth-Teller
February 7–14, 2011
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“Richard Kaplan’s 60 years of nonfiction filmmaking have taken him around the world and into situations of staggering moral complexity and social ambiguity. Though he started out in the 1950s making films commissioned by clients ranging from the U.S. Air Force to the Indian Handicrafts Commission, Kaplan’s signature documentaries—including “The Eleanor Roosevelt Story,” which won the 1965 Academy Award for Best Documentary, and “King: A Filmed Record…Montgomery to Memphis”—were often self-produced, and arose out of his personal enthusiasm for their subjects. In addition to filmmaking, Kaplan has been a respected college professor and a media consultant for organizations such as the Writers’ Guild, the American Museum of the Moving Image, and the United States Information Agency.”
Organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film, with thanks to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Paley Center for Media, The Library of Congress—Motion Picture Division, and the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research.
RICHARD KAPLAN has a distinguished record as a documentary film and television writer, director, and producer, both in the United States and abroad. His work has won considerable acclaim and critical recognition, including two Academy Awards. He is the recipient of an Emmy Award for outstanding historical and cultural programming. Richard Kaplan was born in New York City in 1925 and is a graduate of Antioch College, where he majored in English and Political Science. He served 3 years in the US Army during World War II, and began his film career after graduate studies in the Department of Cinema at the University of Southern California. Mr. Kaplan’s background also includes the planning and development of theatrical feature films both in the United States and abroad. In 1973, he served as an Executive Producer for The American Film Theater and has worked with such renowned performers as Marlene Dietrich, Liv Ullmann, and Laurence Olivier. Richard Kaplan was Adjunct Professor of Film in the School of the Arts at Columbia University from 1990 to 1998 and was one of the founders of Columbia’s Documentary Center and the organizer of its first documentary film series. He has also taught at the University of Southern California, University of Maryland, City College, Hunter College, Parsons School of Design, and New York University. During 1984-85, he was Associate Dean of Pratt Institute’s School of Art and Design and from 1987 to 1991 served as a video consultant to Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business. Richard Kaplan is a retired member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the International Documentary Association, and the Writers Guild of America. He has served on the Advisory Boards of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and New York’s Documentary Club and as chairman of the jury and jury member of numerous festivals both in the United States and abroad.