The Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Documentary competition is the launch pad for Hal, Amy Scott’s feature-length docu about iconoclast director Hal Ashby. Cinetic Media is aboard to sell the title at the fest, and the film premieres Monday in Park City. Sundance kicks off Thursday and runs through January 28.
As befits a subject whose stretch of work especially in the 1970s included Harold & Maude, The Last Detail, Shampoo and Coming Home (he was Oscar-nominated for that one), interviewees include collaborators Jeff Bridges, Jane Fonda and Louis Gossett Jr as well as Alexander Payne, Judd Apatow, Lisa Cholodenko, Beau Bridges, Haskell Wexler and Norman Jewison.
It was Jewison who gave Ashby his first big Hollywood break, as a film editor, after Ashby landed in L.A. — they teamed on films The Cincinnati Kid, The Russians Are Coming! (Ashby’s first Oscar nom for editing), The Thomas Crown Affair and In the Heat of the Night, which won Ashby the Oscar. It was under Jewison’s stewardship that Ashby found his passion for stories about social justice, class and race.
The film also details Ashby’s many clashes with studios and a string of less-than-successful movies in the ’80s. He died of cancer in 1988.
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