Leading Woman in the Arts: Patrizia von Brandenstein

“Translations: From Word to Image to Screen”

Free and Open to the Public. ♿ [hearing device access, closed captioned]

Patrizia von Brandenstein began her film career in 1972 with a debut screen credit as a set decorator on the acclaimed drama The Candidate, and subsequently worked as both a scenic artist and costume designer, with credits including Between the Lines and Saturday Night Fever.

Teaming with husband and fellow production designer Stuart Wurtzel on Joan Micklin Silver’s turn-of-the-century immigrant tale Hester Street helped move von Brandenstein into art direction. Soon she was designing sets for films as varied as the teen comedy drama Breaking Away and Milos Forman’s lavish period recreation Ragtime, for which she shared an Oscar nomination as art director.

By the early 1980s she was a full-fledged production designer, assuming supervisory capacities and laying out much of the visual texture of her films. Among her notable projects was the striking Heartland, set in the old West, and her work with director Mike Nichols on Silkwood, Working Girl and Postcards from the Edge.

In 1985, von Brandenstein won the Academy Award for her vividly detailed rendering of the age of Mozart for Amadeus, her second collaboration with Forman. In 1987, von Brandenstein received her third Oscar nomination for Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables, and further distinguished herself with her work on the teen musical Beat Street, the high-society comedy drama Six Degrees of Separation, and a return to the West for The Quick and the Dead.

Her additional production credits include A Chorus Line, Billy Bathgate, Sneakers, Leap of Faith, Just Cause, The People Vs. Larry Flynt and Mercury Rising, as well as A Simple Plan, Man on the Moon, Shaft, The Ice Harvest, All the King’s Men and Goya’s Ghosts. Von Brandenstein also worked on the historical drama The Last Station, directed by Michael Hoffman, for whom she designed The Emperor’s Club in 2002. She designed the acclaimed Irish drama Albert Nobbs starring Glenn Close and Janet McAteer, and David Mamet’s production of the courtroom drama, Phil Spector, starring Helen Mirren and Al Pacino, for HBO. This production earned nominations for an Art Directors Guild award as well as an Emmy nomination.

In December 2012, Von Brandenstein designed the sets and costumes for the Broadway production of The Anarchist, written and directed by David Mamet. She has continued to cherish opportunities to design for the theater and opera stage, notably the first operatic production of Tan Dun’s TEA in the new Beijing opera house.

Most recently, she designed Fred Schepisi’s production of Words & Pictures, starring Juliette Binoche, shot in Vancouver B.C. She followed this by designing the four hour mini-series Houdini, which also garnered an Art Directors Guild nomination for Excellence in Production Design. Her next assignment took her to New Orleans, Louisiana, for the coming of age romance, The Best of Me, directed by her frequent collaborator, Michael Hoffman.

Student Leadership and Careers Luncheon Conversation with Patrizia von Brandenstein

Friday, October 16
12:15 pm, Willits-Hallowell
Preregistration required.

Join Patrizia von Brandenstein for an informal and interactive discussion and advice on possibilities for careers in the arts.