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4 March 1966 |
Leeds, England, UK
|Residence||Los Angeles, California, USA|
|Alma mater||University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
|Spouse(s)||Richard Glatzer (m. 2013; d. 2015)|
Wash Westmoreland, also called Wash West, (born 4 March 1966) is an independent film director who has worked in television, documentaries, and independent films. His 2006 release, Quinceañera, had a double Sundance win (Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize), and it also picked up the Humanitas Prize and the John Cassavetes Spirit Award. In 2008, Westmoreland produced an MTV film Pedro about AIDS activist Pedro Zamora that was introduced on MTV by U.S. President Bill Clinton. Working with his partner Richard Glatzer, he directed The Last of Robin Hood in 2012 starring Kevin Kline, Susan Sarandon, and Dakota Fanning that was released in August 2014 by Goldwyn. The duo's next film Still Alice, based on Lisa Genova's NYT bestselling book, starred Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, and Alec Baldwin. It premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in 2014 and was immediately picked up for distribution by Sony Picture Classics. It went on to win many awards, especially for leading actress Julianne Moore, who won the SAG Award, the Independent Spirit Award, the BAFTA and the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Wash Westmoreland was born Paul Westmoreland in Leeds, England, on 4 March 1966. His father was a maintenance engineer for the CEGB and his mother worked as a receptionist at a local hair salon. Westmoreland earned his college degree in Politics and East Asian Studies at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Fukuoka University in Japan, graduating in 1990. He moved to the United States in 1992, initially living in New York City, then moving to New Orleans and finally to Los Angeles in 1995.
After working as a camera assistant on Bruce LaBruce's movie Hustler White, Westmoreland entered the Adult Entertainment world to try to research a feature film project The Fluffer. He managed to land a job directing for BIG Video, a minor label and directed under the name Wash West and started making movies that challenged the conventional norms of the industry. Dr Jerkoff and Mr Hard and Naked Highway were his first significant films.
It was also during this time that Westmoreland started to make his presence in mainstream films felt. He appeared briefly in Velvet Goldmine by director Todd Haynes. Haynes would go on to work with Westmoreland as a producer on Quinceañera.
Westmoreland went on to direct the cat-and-mouse thriller Animus, sci-fi based Technical Ecstasy, and The Devil is a Bottom, which was surprisingly listed as one of the LA Weekly Critic's Top Ten Movies of the year.
2001: The Fluffer
Glatzer and Westmoreland's first collaboration was The Fluffer, a look at obsession, addiction and power relationships in the gay porn industry. It premiered at Berlin and Toronto Film Festivals in 2001 and secured US distribution from First Run Features. It received mixed positive reviews and gained almost instant cult status, John Waters including it in his famous series Ten Movies That Will Corrupt You. The film starred Michael Cunio, Roxanne Day, Scott Gurney, and Deborah Harry. Around this time, he gave a candid interview about his experiences in the industry to Terri Gross on NPR's Fresh Air.
2004: Gay Republicans
Working alone, Westmoreland made a documentary during the 2004 election season, following four Log Cabin Republicans as they responded to President George W. Bush's initiative to alter the US Constitution to ensure that marriage was only legal between a man and a woman. The documentary was produced for Andrew Cohen at Bravo, and Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato at World of Wonder. An extended version of the film premiered at the AFI festival in 2004 to a riotous response. It ended up winning the festival's documentary prize and gaining a distribution deal on DVD.
Made for a budget of under $500,000, and featuring many first-time actors, Quinceañera ended up winning both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. It went on to win the prestigious Humanitas Prize, the John Cassavetes Prize at the Spirit Award in 2007, and many other film festival prizes all over the world. It was picked up for the U.S. by Sony Pictures Classics and distributed in over 25 countries worldwide.
The plot focussed on a multigenerational Mexican-American family preparing for their daughter's quinceañera against the back drop of a gentrifying neighborhood. The film was entirely shot in Echo Park, which is where the directors live. On release, it received strong positive reviews scoring 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. The lead actress, Emily Rios, went on to have a successful career starring in Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, and "The Bridge".
Working with Bunim-Murray productions, Glatzer and Westmoreland executive-produced a movie called Pedro about Pedro Zamora – the AIDS activist who was cast on MTV's The Real World in 1993. The movie was directed by Nick Oceano and produced by Maggie Malina and Jon Murray. For a made for MTV movie, Pedro enjoyed a surprise International festival run. It premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2007 and Berlin 2008. President Bill Clinton recorded a special introduction for it when it premiered on television.
2013: The Last of Robin Hood
Glatzer originally heard of a book about Errol Flynn's last love affair The Big Love through his mentor, Jay Presson Allen, the screenwriter of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Cabaret. The story is told by Flynn's girlfriend's mother, Florence Aadland with co-writer Tedd Thomey and has been praised by the likes of William Styron and W.H. Auden as the ultimate unreliable narrator story. Glatzer and Westmoreland started researching the screenplay in 2003, earning the trust of Florence's daughter, Beverly, and the friendship of author Tedd Thomey and Flynn's chauffeur in his final years, Ronnie Shedlo. They wrote the first draft of the screenplay in 2007 but it was not until 2011, and the attachment of Kevin Kline, that things started to move forward. Killer Films' Christine Vachon and Pam Koffler came on to produce, and Susan Sarandon and Dakota Fanning signed on for the mother-daughter team of Florence and Beverly. Production took place in Atlanta Georgia in 2013. The city's various locations were used to represent Los Angeles, New York, French Equatorial Africa, Cuba and Vancouver.
The movie premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in 2013 to a mixed critical response. Several critics praised Kline's performance as Oscar worthy, whereas other seemed confounded by the movie's lack of a moral stance. Glatzer and Westmoreland's intent had always been to focus on the permission for the relationship, afforded by the mother, rather than its morality.
2014: Still Alice
Based on a book written by Lisa Genova, Still Alice is a movie about a fifty-year-old linguistics professor who develops early onset Alzheimer's disease. Glatzer and Westmoreland were hired to adapt the book in 2011 by UK-based producing duo Lex Lutzus and James Brown. Killer Films' Christine Vachon and Pam Koffler then came on as US production partners and Maria Shriver and Elizabeth Gelfand Stearns came on as executives and co-executive producers. Julianne Moore was Glatzer and Westmoreland's first choice to play Alice. She was soon joined by Kristen Stewart and Kate Bosworth, who had been a long time fan of the book. Alec Baldwin then came on to round out the cast, he and Moore having worked together on the TV show 30 Rock.
Glatzer and Westmoreland changed the location for the film from Boston to New York and the university from Harvard to Columbia. Shooting took place over 23 days in March 2014.
The movie was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics, and released in December 2014. Some critics have suggested a connection between Glatzer's own battle with illness and the raw, honest depiction of illness in the film. Glatzer died from ALS in March 2015. Moore won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance. To date, the movie has grossed just under $42 million in its worldwide box office.
On his 49th birthday Westmoreland gave an interview to Radio Leeds telling many personal stories about his life.
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- Wash Westmoreland on IMDb
- Wash West at the Internet Adult Film Database
- Wash West at the Adult Film Database
- Interview by Benjamin Scuglia on Nightcharm.com
- Indie Wire Interview with Wash Westmoreland (includes some biographical data)
- Jennifer Prestigiacomo Interview with Wash West and review of The Fluffer
- Profile and Interview on ManNet.com
- Naked Highway review on GayVN
- Wash West on The New Orleans Index Project