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March 18, 2004



Scene from movie Seabiscuit
Oppewall created this Depression-era radio studio for Seabiscuit.

Moviegoers step into theaters expecting to be transported to another world. What’s involved in creating the apparently seamless, comprehensive world of a Hollywood film will be the subject of a talk by three-time Oscar nominee Jeannine Oppewall M.A. ’69 on Thursday, April 8, at 4:30 p.m. Oppewall’s lecture, "The Art and Craft of Production Design in Seabiscuit," to be held in Carpenter B21, is free and open to the public. Seabiscuit, for which Oppewall received her third Academy Award nomination for art direction, will be screened in the campus Center’s Main Lounge on Wednesday, April 7, at 7 p.m. Oppewalll will also sit in on an undergraduate film-studies class during her visit to Bryn Mawr.

Oppewall, who studied medieval history at Bryn Mawr before striking out for Hollywood, has put her research skills to use designing for period films like Ironweed, Catch Me If You Can and Desert Hearts. Over the course of her career, Oppewall has, according to a recent profile in The New York Times, "given texture and realism to more than 30 films, moving from set decorator to art director to production designer." Her film credits include Wonder Boys, Tender Mercies, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Bridges of Madison County, Primal Fear and The Big Easy. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Art Direction for Pleasantville and L.A. Confidential as well as Seabiscuit, and won the L.A. Film Critics Award for production design for L.A. Confidential.

The ability to collaborate with other artists in pursuit of a common goal is essential in film, says Oppewall, citing Seabiscuit as an illustration: "The story of Seabiscuit is a metaphor for life: A group of disparate people come together around a certain cause at a certain time and are forced to learn how to work with each other's strengths and each other’s weaknesses, in the knowledge that together they have the possibility of creating something much larger and much better than they could by themselves," Oppewall says.  "No one nominated for an Oscar has ever done it alone."

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