NYS WRITERS INSTITUTE
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Author & Film Producer
NYS Writers Institute, April 20, 2007
4:15 p.m. Informal Seminar | Science Library 340
7:00 p.m. Commentary
(following TRIUMPH OF THE WILL screening)
Page Hall, 135 Western Ave
Steven Bach, biographer, scholar and former film studio executive is the author of a revelatory new biography of Leni Riefenstahl, the Nazi propagandist, influential film stylist, and pioneering female director. Riefenstahl died in 2003 at the age of 101; to the very end of her life, she attempted to minimize and explain away her complicity with the Nazi regime. "Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl" (2007) dismantles Riefenstahl's contention that she was an apolitical artist who did not understand the scope of Nazi crimes. The author draws on newly-available primary sources, as well as exclusive interviews with Riefenstahl's colleagues and friends.
"a lively, incisive look at a compelling and somewhat appalling figure who demonstrated that beauty isn't always truth." - "Publishers Weekly"
"finally presents Riefenstahl as she genuinely was: not as we have seen her so far but as Hitler's self-serving and mendacious p.r. handmaiden." - Cynthia Ozick
The book's many revelations include Riefenstahl's passionate enthusiasm for Hitler from her first reading of "Mein Kampf"; her close and supportive working relationships with a variety of Nazi leaders; her role as a silent eyewitness to wartime atrocities against Jews; and her use of slave labor in the form of concentration camp Gypsies destined for Auschwitz. Bach also chronicles Riefenstahl's postwar efforts, through lawsuits and misleading memoirs, to downplay or suppress these facts.
Bach's earlier books include "Dazzler: The Life and Times of Moss Hart" (2001), and "Marlene Dietrich: The Life and Legend" (1992).
"The finest picture-star biography I have ever read." - Peter Bogdanovich, "Los Angeles Times" (on Dietrich book)
"A bountifully entertaining biography… a bonanza for the perpetually famished acolytes of show-biz lore and dish." - Jan Stuart, "Newsday" (Moss Hart book)
"The best account of American moviemaking in the age of conglomerate control of the studios." - Pauline Kael
Bach is himself a seasoned veteran of the Hollywood film industry who formerly served as head of worldwide production at United Artists. Bach was involved in the making of such films as "Manhattan" (1979), "Raging Bull" (1980), and "The French Lieutenant's Woman" (1981) as well as the infamous anti-Western, "Heaven's Gate" (1980), the film that bankrupted United Artist and which ultimately helped shift the focus of big studio movie-making from talented directors to bottom-line-oriented executives.
Bach's memoir, "Final Cut: Art, Money, and Ego in the Making of 'Heaven's Gate,' the Film That Sank United Artists" (1985, 1999), was shortlisted for "Book of the Year" by the British Film Institute.
"One of the few indispensable books about Hollywood." - "Newsday"
Steven Bach currently teaches film studies at Bennington College and Columbia University.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620
or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.