Born and raised in a Calvinist household in Michigan, Paul Schrader has blazed a boldly singular, and sometimes controversial career path as critic, author, screenwriter and feature film director. After attending Calvin College, he went to UCLA for his master’s degree where his thesis about the austere style of filmmakers Yasujiro Ozu, Robert Bresson, and Carl Theodor Dreyer was published by University of California Press as Transcendental style in film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer.
Before writing screenplays, Schrader wrote film criticism for the L. A. Free Press. His screenplays and the films he would eventually direct would feature characters on the edge of society—loners, losers and hustlers—seeking some form of redemption or salvation in a messy and volatile world. “There’s always been something adversarial and evangelical about my interest in film.”
Throughout his 20-plus film career, he has been committed to psychologically darker, deeper existential struggles and reality; “psychological realism” is what he has aimed for. His Calvinist upbringing still influences his stories and characters, understanding good versus evil and a profound hunger for transcendence, in some form.
IU Cinema will be screening Taxi Driver, Schrader’s first major screenplay and presenting an extended onstage conversation as part of the Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Series.