The Cinema Department hosted legendary filmmaker and master storyteller Don Hahn Friday in Hasley Hall. Hahn is known for producing such films as ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘The Lion King.’ His documentary ‘Waking Sleeping Beauty was followed by a question and answer session.
Hahn was born in Chicago, the son of a Lutheran minister. When he was 3 his family moved to Bellflower where he went to school and shot his first animated shorts in the high school film club. He graduated from North Hollywood High School and later studied at Cal State Northridge.
“It’s funny when you start out a career you kind of head off on this white water rafting journey and you are prepared but you never know what’s around the next bend” Han shared, ‘and so I think most of my life has been about going with the flow, and taking advantage of opportunities as they come along and letting yourself grow in ways that you didn’t expect.”
Han started out as a music major and an art minor and getting into film was a surprise to him. “I got really seduced by it and loved it” Han said, “ and moved into producing and loved that too so it’s really about keeping your eyes open and growing as a human being and being the best you that you can be, being authentic to yourself and your own gifts.”
“Waking Sleeping Beauty,” which chronicled the perfect storm of people and circumstances that led to Disney’s animation renaissance in the 1980’s and 90’s, played to rave reviews at film festivals in Telluride, Toronto, and the Hamptons, where it won the audience award for best documentary. The film was recently released theatrically in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco in March 2010.
Hahn’s second documentary, “Hand Held,” was a personal undertaking and was in the making for many years. “Projects take many times 5 years to complete so you should never base what you film on ‘trends’ but rather what you ‘are passionate about’ Hahn said.
“Hand Held” is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of Boston Globe photographer Mike Carroll, from his horrific discovery of pediatric AIDS in Romanian orphanages to his subsequent 20-year odyssey fighting against stultifying bureaucracy to bring aid to forgotten children halfway around the world.
“Be genuine, be yourself, be of the moment, tell your story today, don’t worry about how it’s seen tomorrow and express yourself” were some of his final comments. “First and foremost I’d like to be remembered as a good dad and father to my girl” Hahn expressed, “because that’s the most important thing to me, and secondly that I was able to corral a lot of great artists together and make some movies that thankfully, have turned out to be popular and accepted by the audience, so that’s all, that’s plenty.”