September 5, 2017 4:07 pm
Murray Lerner, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, passed away on Sep. 2 at his home in Long Island City at the age of 90. Lerner was twice-nominated for an Academy Award: first for his 1967 film Festival!, which documented the Newport Folk Festivals 1963-66, including the iconic performance of Bob Dylan going electric at Newport in 1965.
Kartemquin Artistic Director and co-founder Gordon Quinn met Lerner after moving to New York to work on Festival!
"He was a passionate filmmaker who loved the unlikely juxtapositions you see in his films. At the time Festival! was the biggest film I had ever worked on and Murray had the vision and tenacity to see this multi-year project through. The summer spent on Martha's Vineyard editing with Murray and Howard Alk was one of the formative experiences of my career," said Quinn.
He won the academy award in 1980 for his feature-length documentary From Mao to Mozart, which followed Isaac Stern’s visit to to China after Mao’s death. Mr. Lerner also directed the filming of the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, from which over ten films have been made, featuring music legends like Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Leonard Cohen, Miles Davis, The Moody Blues and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. He had just completed a new film focusing on Joni Mitchell’s performance at the festival.
Beginning in the mid-seventies, Lerner also directed ground-breaking and innovative 3D films such as Magic Journeys for Disney, and Sea Dream, which ran for many years in amusement parks worldwide. He won numerous awards for his non-musical feature documentaries, shorts, commercial work, and industrial films, such as To Be A Man, a thoughtful film about the Yale educational system, Search For The Lost Self, and The Return. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for his work on Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who.
In 2007 Lerner released the feature-length Bob Dylan The Other Side of the Mirror, which documented Dylan’s three years of appearances at Newport. Mr. Lerner graduated from Harvard in 1948, where he helped create a film production society, and went on to teach and help create a film program at Yale. He is survived by his wife Judith, son Noah, daughter-in-law Julie and grandchildren Matthew and Catherine.