With the recent loss of UC Press authors David Bordwell and Cari Beauchamp, our Film & Media Studies Editor Raina Polivka shares a reflection on their contributions and legacy in the film community.

I am saddened to write that we’ve recently lost two major pillars of the film community: David Bordwell and Cari Beauchamp. 

Photo by Rataj-Berard

David Bordwell (1947-2024) was instrumental in shaping our understanding of cinema as an artform and storytelling practice. With his partner, Kristen Thompson, he authored foundational textbooks in the field Film Art (in its 12th edition) and Film History (in its 5th edition), which inaugurated legions of students into film and media studies. At UC Press, he worked with Eric Smoodin (past-film editor for UC Press) to publish Figures Traced in Light: On Cinematic Staging (2005) and The Way Hollywood Tells It (2006), both of which have been licensed in Chinese, Hebrew, and audio; and both of which have become perennial bestsellers for the press. His name is synonymous with film history and he will be remembered for his commitment to the field and to public scholarship.

Cari Beauchamp (1949-2023) was a powerhouse of civil and women’s rights, both on the screen and off. In her early career, she worked for Dianne Feinstein and was the Press Secretary for Governor Jerry Brown. She devoted much of her later life to exhuming the forgotten stories of women filmmakers and Hollywood’s movers-and shakers. A regular contributor to Vogue and The NYT, her first book, Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood (1998) has become a classic in feminist and film history. She went on to publish two other books with UC Press: Anita Loos Rediscovered (2003) and Adventures of a Hollywood Secretary (2006).

For my part, Cari was an advisor and an inspiration. I will never forget our first meeting in LA when she rounded the corner for our meeting, running late, and screeched into a parking spot in her old sedan. She arrived in a bluster of fast-talking enthusiasm and seemed to embody the panache and flair of so many of the women she wrote about. She saw herself as a writer first and a reader second, and would always provide (sometimes uninvited) reviews of the newest film books on the market. She admired our work at UC Press, especially the recuperative work of feminist media history, and can be credited with bringing Lara Gabrielle (author of Captain of My Soul) to my attention. She had a standing invite to the major award shows and festivals, and gave me annual reports about the dramas that took place on and off the televised screen. Cari had great taste and a larger-than-life personality. And I will miss her. You can view the NYT obituary here.

—Raina Polivka