Lynne Littman

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Lynne Littman
Born (1941-06-26) June 26, 1941 (age 79)
Alma materSarah Lawrence College (B.A., 1962)
Sorbonne (1960-61)
OccupationFilm director, producer
(m. 1977; div. 1987)

Lynne Littman (born June 26, 1941)[1] is an American film and television director and producer.

Her best known work is Testament (1983) and she has won several awards including an Academy Award for her documentary short film Number Our Days (1976).[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Littman was born June 26, 1941 in New York City. She attended Music & Art High School[3] and Sarah Lawrence College, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1962. She also studied at The Sorbonne from 1960 to 1961.[2]


Littman began her career in the industry by working as a secretary for WNET (New York). In the following years she worked at a number of freelance jobs in different areas of film. It was until the 1970s when she began working for National Education Television. It is here that she began to explore her future in film journalism.[2]

Commonly she worked with Mort Silverstein, who was known for having a passion for hard-hitting news practices. They made a follow-up documentary to Edward R. Murrow's Harvest of Shame, titled What Harvest for the Reaper. She made several award-winning documentary shorts, including The Matter of Kenneth (1973). Her most notable short documentary film was Number Our Days (1976), based on the field work of anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff; this film received her an Academy Award in 1977.[2]

Littman was one of the Original Six, a group of women directors who created the Women’s Steering Committee of the Director’s Guild of America, to protest against gender discrimination in Hollywood.[4]

Littman's first feature film was Testament (1983), about a family struggling to survive after a nuclear fallout. The film is based on a short story titled "The Last Testament" by Carol Amen. Littman had been reading the story with her son when she had the idea to adapt it. Many had wanted to obtain the film; however, Littman had managed to secure the rights first.[5] She immediately went about trying to find money for the film. Eventually, a producer at PBS' American Playhouse gave her $500,000 for a 60-minute movie that would involve no studio interference. However, the budget had to be expanded to $750,000 when the screenwriter turned in a script for a 90-minute film that was well-received by all involved. Littman stated how proud she was that the film was completed under budget, yet the editing process had taken five months longer than the standard television film.[5] The film was a success upon release and garnered an Academy Award nomination for its lead actress Jane Alexander.

Following Testament, Littman made films infrequently. In 1999, she made two films: Freak City, and Having Our Say, which were aired on television on the same day and in the same time-slot.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Littman was married to Taylor Hackford from 1977 to 1987. She has one child, Alexander Hackford, as well as a stepson, Rio Hackford.[6] In 1985 she took a ten-year hiatus from film making to raise her child.[2] During the 1980s and 1990s Littman served on the advisory board of the National Student Film Institute.[7][8]


Littman's moving image collection is held at the Academy Film Archive.[9] The archive preserved her film Number Our Days in 2007.[10]


  • In the Matter of Kenneth (1973)
  • Number Our Days (1976)
  • Once a Daughter (1980)
  • Testament (1983)
  • In Her Own Time (1985)
  • Cagney & Lacey: True Convictions (1996)
  • Freak City (1999)
  • Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (1999)
  • Testament at 20 (2003)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Littman has won or has been nominated for multiple awards for both her theatrical and television movies. These include winning an Academy Award for Best Short Documentary in 1977 for Number Our Days. She has also four Los Angeles Emmy Awards, from 1972 to 1974, and in 1977.[2] As well four Cine Golden Eagle nominations for Running My Way (1982) and In Her Own Time (1985).[6]

Award Year Film Result
Academy Award for Best Short Documentary 1977 Number Our Days Won
Cine Golden Eagle 1982 Running My Way Nominated
Cine Golden Eagle 1985 In Her Own Time Nominated


  1. ^ Roberts, Jerry (2009). Encyclopedia of Television Film Directors. Scarecrow Press. p. 342. ISBN 978-0810863781.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Szymczak, Jerome (1999). St. James Woman Filmmakers Encyclopedia. Visible Ink. pp. 240–242. ISBN 1578590922.
  3. ^ "Notable Alumni," Alumni & Friends of LaGuardia High School website. Accessed Oct. 28, 2016.
  4. ^ Syme, Rachel (February 26, 2016). "The Original Six: The Story of Hollywood's Forgotten Feminist Crusaders". Pacific Standard. Retrieved February 26, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b Benson, S (1983). "Lynne Littman's 90-Minute Lifetime". Film Comment. XIX (6).
  6. ^ a b Ault, Susanne (1999). "Mom settles back into director's chair". Variety.
  7. ^ Editor (June 10, 1994). National Student Film Institute/L.A: The Sixteenth Annual Los Angeles Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. pp. 10–11.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Editor (June 7, 1991). Los Angeles Student Film Institute: 13th Annual Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. p. 3.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "Lynne Littman Collection". Academy Film Archive.
  10. ^ "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.

External links[edit]