Go behind-the-scenes and explore more than 60 in-depth portraits of directors, actors, writers, and producers who were celebrated in the Walker Cinema at pivotal moments in their careers. The dynamic catalogue is enriched throughout with archival sound and video interview recordings, transcripts, photography, and ephemera, as well as essays and articles written for the esteemed series of intimate onstage interviews and film retrospectives that screened between 1990–2020.
Walker Dialogues and Film Retrospectives were launched with support from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and sustained over the past 25 years with generous support from the Regis Foundation and Anita and Myron Kunin.
Walker Dialogues and Retrospectives: The First Thirty Years is made possible by generous support from Anita Kunin and the Kunin Family.
History of the Program
The Dialogue and Retrospective series (1990–2020) was begun by Walker film and video curator Bruce Jenkins (1985–1999), who envisioned it as a forum for the critical exploration of the medium and a way to highlight the vast diversity of contemporary filmmakers, from experimental and documentary to international. The program continued through 2020 under the leadership and vision of senior curator Sheryl Mousley, whose contributions reflected her interest in the world-wide independent film movement.
Cinema shapes our cultural landscape and informs our understanding of the world. To explore this creative force and its impact, the Walker invited the most innovative and influential filmmakers of the past thirty years to travel to Minneapolis and talk about their work, their ideas, their influences, and their love of film. These in-depth conversations—led by eminent film critics, writers, and historians and held onstage at the Walker Cinema—became the Walker Dialogue and Retrospective series.
Starting with Clint Eastwood in 1990 and ending with Bong Joon Ho and Julia Reichert in 2020, over sixty guests, including international and American masters, independent visionaries, artists, auteurs, and leading screen actors, have provided insight into the way they think about and make contemporary film.
An in-depth film retrospective, shown in the Walker Cinema, accompanied each Dialogue. In preparation for the on-stage discussion, each host reviewed all the films in the retrospective, researched the work of the featured filmmaker, selected the clips to represent the guest’s career, and wrote an essay about the filmmaker to be published in our brochures and program notes; now they are being shared online.
After initial support from the MacArthur Foundation (1990–1993), the program was generously funded from 1994 to 2013 by Myron Kunin through the Regis Foundation. During this time the program was named the Regis Dialogues. After Mr. Kunin’s retirement, the program transitioned to the Walker Dialogue and Retrospective program (2014–2020), with continued support from Anita Kunin and the Kunin family.
The Walker would like to acknowledge the many interviewers who shaped the discussions, bringing their expertise to our audiences. Several returned more than once, but special recognition goes to Scott Foundas, who hosted more than ten of the Walker Dialogues, sharing insights from his wide-ranging career as film critic (Village Voice, Variety), programming director (Film at Lincoln Center), juror (Sundance, among others), and author. Foundas now works as a film acquisitions and development executive at Amazon Studios.
In recent years, as video documentation has replaced audio recording, the Walker has made the Dialogue and Retrospective series available online. In doing so, we continue the long tradition of community engagement, innovation, and arts criticism that is essential to the mission of the Moving Image Department and the Walker Art Center.
The Walker’s curatorial commitment to the Dialogue program was made evident by curators Bruce Jenkins (1990–1999), Cis Bierinckx (2001–2002), and Sheryl Mousley (2000–2020).
The Sound and Moving Images Collection in the Walker Art Center archives consists of over seven thousand recorded events from 1947 to the present in a multitude of formats, including reel-to-reel and audio-cassette tape, digital audio tape (DAT), 8 mm and 16 mm film, Betacam SP video cassette, digital video tape (DV), and digital files. Included in the archives are recordings of the Walker Dialogue and Retrospective series of filmmakers’ interviews. The series began in 1990, with the Clint Eastwood and Richard Schickel dialogue; the last recorded dialogue, with Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, took place in February 2020.
For decades all interviews at the Walker were captured only on audio. This was the case for the early Dialogue and Retrospective interviews as well. Starting in 1995, however, the dialogue series was also captured on video. The quality of these recordings varies, depending on the recording equipment and, most importantly, the recording formats available at the time. (Older interviews transferred from audio cassettes are notably lower in quality than newer, digitally produced interviews.) Some are of such poor quality that they are not made available for public use. And some filmmakers preferred not to be recorded at all—requests the Walker has honored—so neither audio nor video recordings for those dialogues exist.
Over the years the dialogue series has been digitized, preserved, and catalogued for posterity, and it is available online. In addition, the interviews and supporting materials, including program notes and filmmaker files, are available for in-person research in the Walker Art Center archives. Support for recording preservation of the Walker Dialogue and Retrospective series has been provided by the Bentson Foundation and the Council on Library Information Resources. For more information about the Dialogue and Retrospective series and the Sound and Moving Image Collection, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support from the Kunin Family
The Walker Art Center’s long, fruitful partnership with the Kunin family began when Anita Kunin joined its board in 1986. Anita was a trustee for twenty-four years until her retirement in 2010, having served as chair of the acquisitions committee and as a member of the governance, individual gifts, and Sculpture Garden operations committees.
Anita and her husband, Myron Kunin (known as Mike), founder of Regis Corp., generously supported the Walker for decades, making countless gifts to the annual fund, major contributions to three capital campaigns, and funds to purchase significant artworks. The Kunins, sophisticated and enthusiastic art collectors, also gave the Walker works by Chuck Close, Beauford Delaney, Llyn Foulkes, and Bob Thompson. But it was their remarkable support of the Walker’s Dialogue and Retrospective program that had an especially lasting impact on the institution.
In 1990, the Walker’s Moving Image Department launched the Dialogue program with a significant grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. While this support helped get the initiative off the ground, it was never meant to be a permanent source of funding. In fact, the foundation’s support ended in February 1993, with the dialogue that featured actress Liv Ullman. To continue what had already become a compelling, prestigious, and popular program, the Kunins thankfully stepped in and arranged to have the Regis Foundation make an annual commitment to support the Dialogue program for the next 18 years.
The first Regis Dialogue and Retrospective took place in October 1993 and featured the work of Chen Kaige, whose film Farewell My Concubine had won the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival that same year. The Walker program was the first time his work had been featured in a retrospective. Kathy Halbreich wrote a note to the Kunins at the time stating that she was “enormously touched by your generous spirit. Support of the film program is crucial, and your gift is the first to help us meet our long-range goal of fortifying that department.”
Eventually, Mike Kunin retired and the Regis Foundation stopped funding the program, but by then it had become such an important initiative to the Walker and the Twin Cities community that the Kunin family continued to personally support it, starting in November 2013, when the Dialogue and Retrospective series presented artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen.
Anita and Mike Kunin have left a remarkable philanthropic legacy in Minnesota and elsewhere, and the Walker and its audiences have been the fortunate beneficiaries of the family’s passion for the arts in general and for filmmaking in particular.