Jerry Schatzberg

Jer­ry Schatzberg

An essen­tial filmmaker

Noth­ing made him seem des­tined to become a pho­tog­ra­ph­er, much less a film­mak­er. Yet it’s through these two medi­ums that Jer­ry Schatzberg made his mark as one of the most bril­liant artists of our times. His icon­ic snap­shots remain for­ev­er etched on our reti­nas, as does his intense fil­mog­ra­phy, anoth­er emblem­at­ic fig­ure of the New Hollywood.

Behind the lens, in still or mov­ing images, the New York­er immor­tal­ized the greats, from Bob Dylan to Faye Dun­away, from Mick Jag­ger to Cather­ine Deneuve, from Al Paci­no to Andy Warhol, and nev­er stopped depict­ing the byways and fringes of Amer­i­ca, hark­ing back to the denizens of his neigh­bor­hood as a child.

After grow­ing up in the Bronx in the late 1920s, Jer­ry Schatzberg reluc­tant­ly fol­lowed in his father’s foot­steps to work in the fam­i­ly fur­ri­er busi­ness. He end­ed up assist­ing the famous pho­tog­ra­ph­er William Hel­burn, and quick­ly decid­ed to set up his own studio.

Not­ed for his sin­gu­lar approach to por­trai­ture and fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy in the 1950s and 1960s, Jer­ry Schatzberg became a renowned pho­tog­ra­ph­er, col­lab­o­rat­ing con­sis­tent­ly with the mag­a­zines Vogue, Life, Glam­our and Esquire.

Inspired by Bergman and the New Wave, which he dis­cov­ered in New York’s art­house cin­e­mas, he simul­ta­ne­ous­ly embarked on a film career, direct­ing Puz­zle of a Down­fall Child, a first fea­ture released in 1970 with Faye Dun­away in the lead role.

One year lat­er, his sopho­more film, The Pan­ic in Nee­dle Park, chron­i­cled the day-to-day of a gang of Man­hat­tan drug addicts and served as the break­out role for a promis­ing young actor, Al Paci­no. But it wasn’t until his third film, Scare­crow, and the myth­i­cal pair­ing of Gene Hack­man and Al Paci­no, that Jer­ry Schatzberg tru­ly arrived, receiv­ing the Palme d’Or at the 1973 Cannes Film Fes­ti­val from jury pres­i­dent Ingrid Bergman.

“No oth­er Amer­i­can direc­tor made three such extra­or­di­nary films in a row,” accord­ing to Michel Ciment. Through a career span­ning over 60 years, hun­dreds of mem­o­rable pho­tographs, and a rich fil­mog­ra­phy cross­ing paths with Meryl Streep (The Seduc­tion of Joe Tynan, 1979), Mor­gan Free­man (Street Smart, 1987) and Guil­laume Canet (The Day the Ponies Come Back, 2000), Jer­ry Schatzberg remains unfor­get­table as “an esthete, a great for­mal direc­tor, who was also inter­est­ed in emo­tions and human rela­tion­ships, like all of the great­est directors.”

This year, the Deauville Fes­ti­val has there­fore decid­ed to flip the script and put Jer­ry Schatzberg in front of the lens, to cap­ture his tal­ent and pay trib­ute to him in per­son. The Pierre Fil­mon-direct­ed doc­u­men­tary on the pho­tog­ra­ph­er-direc­tor, Jer­ry Schatzberg, Land­scape Por­trait, will be shown on this occasion.

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