Private Project

Richard Wilbur: Keeping the Difficult Balance

A documentary about the second U.S. Poet Laureate featuring interviews with Donald Hall, Stephen Sondheim, Brian Bedford, Austin Pendleton, Rhina P. Espaillat, Dana Gioia and Wilbur in the last five years of his life. A meditation on mortality, love and loss. A masterclass in creativity, poetry, humanity and how to conduct one’s life with dignity and grace. The non traditional running time has been extolled by former Emmy-winning ABC journalist, Bill Blakemore, as integral to the film’s power.

  • Ralph Hammann
  • Ralph Hammann
  • Ralph Hammann
  • Richard Wilbur
    Key Cast
    2nd Poet Laureate of the United States, winner of 2 Pulitzer Prizes, etc.nd Poet Laureate of the United States, winner of 2 Pulitzer Prizes, etc.
  • Stephen Sondheim
    Key Cast
    Sweeney Todd, Gypsy, A Little Night Music, West Side Story, The Last of Sheila, etc.
  • Dana Gioia
    Key Cast
    Poet, former Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, former Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts
  • Rhina P. Espaillat
    Key Cast
    Award-winning poet, translator
  • Donald Hall
    Key Cast
    14th U.S. Poet Laureate
  • Brian Bedford
    Key Cast
    Tony-winning actor, Grand Prix, Nixon, The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Austin Pendleton
    Key Cast
    My Cousin Vinny, Finding Nemo, Starting Over, Catch 22, The Muppet Movie, Simon, What"s Up Doc?
  • Patty Kimura
    Key Cast
  • William Blakemore
    Key Cast
    Emmy-winning journalist (ABC News)
  • Justina Trova
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    2 hours 59 minutes 39 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 26, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Amarcord Arthouse Television Awards
    Chicago, IL
    United States
    Winner, Dziga Vertov Award for Best Documentary Feature
  • International Independent Film Awards
    Encino, CA
    United States
    Silver Winner, Documentary Feature
  • Latitude Film Awards
    London, England
    United Kingdom
    Silver Award, Documentary Feature
  • Spotlight Documentary Film Awards
    Atlanta, GA
    United States
    Silver Winner, Documentary Feature
  • Accolade Global Film Competition
    La Jolla, CA
    United States
    Certificate of Merit, Documentary Feature
Director Biography - Ralph Hammann

Ralph Hammann was a film and theater teacher and critic for over 35 years. He also had a part time career as an actor and theater director. As a curator of film festivals at the Berkshire Museum, he introduced audiences to such diverse directors as Kurosawa, Fellini, Lean and Chabrol. Following his departure from education, he has returned to his first and most abiding love, cinema.

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Director Statement

As a 67-year-old embarking on his first feature film, I am something of an anomaly, but film has always been a mainstay of my life since my father, an award winning photographer, brought me to my first movie, The Animal World, at age 4. The special effects by Ray Harryhausen and Willis O’Brien introduced me to the endless opportunities of the medium to explore other worlds, cultures and ideas. After a near-lifetime of teaching and critiquing films, I hope to use my accumulated knowledge and experience in making a few films that have something to say that might make a difference in our present tumultuous times. I chose my first subject to be Richard Wilbur, one of the most important (if under-sung) poets and figures of our time. I hope in this film to give the viewer a chance to live in his presence for a few hours. I firmly believe the result will be transformational.

I have been most influenced by the narrative films of Kurosawa, Lean, Kubrick, Fellini, Truffaut, Chabrol, Welles, Reed, Lang and Hitchcock — and the documentaries of Burns, Moore and Morris.