Walter Murch will deliver his Keynote Speech on Friday, September 25, at 9:05 AM PDT in the virtual Cary Grant Theatre.
Born in 1943 to Canadian parents in New York City, Murch graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in Liberal Arts in 1965; and subsequently attended the Graduate Program of USC’s School of Cinema-Television. His 50-year career in cinema stretches back to 1969 (Francis Coppola’s The Rain People) and includes work on THX-1138, The Godfather I, II, and III, American Graffiti, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Cold Mountain, and many other films with directors such as George Lucas, Fred Zinnemann, Philip Kaufman, Anthony Minghella, Kathryn Bigelow, Sam Mendes and Brad Bird.
Murch’s pioneering achievements in sound were acknowledged by Coppola in his 1979 Palme d’Or winner Apocalypse Now, for which Murch was granted, in a film-history first, the screen credit of Sound Designer. Murch has been nominated for nine Academy Awards (six for picture editing and three for sound) and has won three Oscars: for best sound on Apocalypse Now (for which he and his collaborators devised the now-standard 5.1 sound format), and for Best Film Editing and Best Sound for his work on The English Patient. Although this double win in 1997 was unprecedented in the history of the Oscars, Murch had previously won a double BAFTA for best sound and best picture editing for The Conversation in 1974. The English Patient was the first digitally edited film to win an editing Oscar.
Murch has also edited documentaries: Particle Fever (2013) on the search for the Higgs Boson (winner of the Grierson Award, and the Steven Hawking Medal for Science Communication) and his most recent work is the recently completed Coup 53 (2019) an independently financed feature-length documentary on western interference in the politics of Iran, which had its world premiere at the 2019 Telluride Film Festival and is now in general release.
Murch’s contributions to film restoration include the 1894 Edison-Dickson Experiment (the first attempt in history at synchronizing image and sound); the 1998 “director’s cut” of Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil; and Francis Coppola’s Apocalypse Now Redux (2001).
Murch is also the director and co-writer of Return to Oz (Disney 1985), nominated for Best Visual Effects.
In 1995, Murch published In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, which has been translated into many languages and used as a text in film schools for the past 25 years. He was also the subject of Michael Ondaatje’s book The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film (2002) and Behind the Seen by Charles Koppelman (2005). Murch has also translated the work of Italian author Curzio Malaparte in The Bird that Swallowed Its Cage (2012), and was the subject of Lawrence Weschler’s 2017 book on planetary astronomy Waves Passing in the Night: Walter Murch in the Land of the Astrophysicists.
Murch has received honorary doctorates from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (2006), Southampton-Solent University (2016), and the University of Hertfordshire (2018).
Murch and his wife Aggie have been married since 1965 and are currently residing in London, where Murch is writing a new book on film, Suddenly Something Clicked, for Faber&Faber to be published in 2021.
Walter and Aggie have four children and three grandchildren.