Scorsese, Eastwood entrust papers with Basinger
Founded by Jeanine Basinger in 1985, the Wesleyan Cinema Archives have emerged as one of the finest collections held by any small university. They house the collections of Frank Capra, Elia Kazan, Raoul Walsh, Ingrid Bergman, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme and John Waters, among others.
For the A-list artists who entrust Wesleyan with their documents, Basinger made the choice an easy one. “You just don’t say ‘no’ to Jeanine Basinger,” Eastwood affirms. “In her knowledge of film history, Jeanine takes a backseat to no one. Every executive in the movie business should sit in on a discussion with her at some point in their lives and be re-instilled with the energy that she gets across by talking about movies.”
No less a titan than Scorsese was also impressed by Basinger’s blend of knowledge and compassion. “She’s done so much for the spirit of film studies. We all owe her a lot,” the director says. “I knew my papers would be in good hands with Jeanine because she is someone who truly cares — she cares about film history, film scholarship, and most of all she cares about movies. In fact, she’s passionate about them.”
Demme knew the high esteem in which Scorsese and other Gotham directors held Basinger long before he met her himself. “For many years she’s been regarded as a major cineaste among the New York film community,” Demme notes. “She is the first and only person I turned to when it came time to find a place to leave my papers.”
When Isabella Rossellini and her siblings were seeking a home for their mother Ingrid Bergman’s effects, it was Basinger’s personal touch that made all the difference. “Many other archives were very bureaucratic, impersonal and cold — they expect you to give them the material, then they push you away. But Jeanine was warm and welcoming, simple and direct, and she understood the sensitivity of these documents to us,” Rossellini recalls. “Jeanine would talk about my mother with the same warmth as if she was right here in front of us. Sometimes when I want to visit Mama, I’ll go to the archives instead of the cemetery.”