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February 6: Haskell Wexler, A.S.C.

February 6, 2015

HW4Influential cinematographer Haskell Wexler (five Academy Awards, one Emmy) was born in Chicago on this date in 1922. The best-known films on which he has worked include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), for which he won an Oscar; In the Heat of the Night (1967), in which he made break-through innovations in lighting for black actors (Sidney Poitier); Medium Cool (1968), which he also wrote and directed; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975); Bound for Glory (1976), for which he won another Academy Award; Matewan (1987); and many others, including several socially conscious documentaries. In 2012, Wexler worked with journalist James Foley during the shooting of Four Days in Chicago, Wexler’s documentary about anti-war protests led by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan; Foley then returned to Syria, where he was captured and beheaded by ISIS. Haskell Wexler is now 93 years old. Widely considered one of the most innovative and creative cameramen in the film business, he blogs on contemporary issues at To see famous actors speaking about sleep deprivation in his 2007 documentary, Who Needs Sleep?, look below.

“I’d say to anyone trying to break into the business: Don’t just be interested in movies. Be interested in life. Be a person. Be in touch.” —Haskell Wexler