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Cinematic: Wilder Things


By Randi Schmelzer

Published Jan 1, 2007 8:00 AM

Copyright © Rendering of the Billy Wilder Theater lobby courtesy of Michael Maltzan Architecture.

With a catalog of more than 220,000 titles, the UCLA Film & Television Archive is rivaled only by the Library of Congress in its collection of 20th-century film-history essentials. And now, the Archive has a screening facility as impressive as its holdings.

Unveiled in December, the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum was made possible thanks to a $5-million grant from Audrey L. Wilder, widow of the renowned writer-director (and longtime Westwood resident) who died in 2002.

Designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture, the 295-seat theater is "one of the few venues in the country able to screen the entire history of the moving image in its original format, the way the artist intended," says Robert Rosen, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. The Wilder is equipped to project everything from silent and nitrate films, to wide-screen and digital formats, Beta and video.

The new theater is also a fitting tribute to its legendary namesake, whose more than 20-picture résumé includes classic films like 1950’s Sunset Boulevard and 1959’s Some Like It Hot.

On February 19, UCLA's 2007 programming series kicks off with a celebration and screenings in Wilder’s honor. From there, the Film & Television Archive will present more than 400 classic- and contemporary-era films and videos. Also on the 2007 schedule is UCLA's second collaboration with the Los Angeles International Film Festival, as well as Hammer Museum programs featuring contemporary writers, scientists, politicians and artists.

UCLA Film & Television Archive. 10899 Wilshire Blvd. at Westwood Blvd. Call the Hammer Museum at (310) 443-7000 or log on to