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Jerry Aronson

Jerry Aronson is an independent, award-winning filmmaker and photographer. Over the last three decades he has established his reputation as a producer, director, film instructor and photographer.

Jerry started taking still photos in 1960 when, at the age of 15, he photographed President Eisenhower and Governor George Romney in Detroit, Michigan. In high school, he was the top winner in the National Kodak Scholastic Magazine Photography awards. Later he studied with Aaron Siskind and Wynn Bullock at the Institute of Design in Chicago.

He began teaching photography at South Shore High School in Chicago in 1970 and by 1972 his students were also top winners in the same National Kodak Scholastic awards. He also began freelancing as a photographer for Creem magazine and various concert promoters in Chicago, which began his rock photography career. He moved to Boulder and established the Cherry Creek High School photo department. He continued photographing for Creem and concert promoters, free-lancing for Rolling Stone and became the head photographer for the Rocky Mountain Musical Express.

His still photographs from 1960 to 1980 cover a broad range of subjects in music and politics. In the period following, he concentrated on filmmaking. However, recently he has organized his body of photography and released it for wider distribution.

His many films include the 1978 Academy Award-nominated film “The Divided Trail” which follows the lives of four Native Americans who lived in the urban heart of Chicago. The film was broadcast on PBS in a special series, “Matters of Life and Death,” in 1980. Jerry was also chosen to be a Directing Fellow at the American Film Institute in 1981.

He also directed a six-hour documentary miniseries, “America's Music: The Roots of Country,” which examines the evolution of this American music form from its origins in Appalachia to its current preeminence as a billion-dollar industry. The documentary aired on TBS and TNT in 1996.

Jerry first completed “The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg” in 1993, when it had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. The feature-length documentary had a US theatrical run and has since been exhibited at over 250 international film festivals and has also had a world-wide television and DVD release, and has helped establish Jerry’s reputation as an outstanding documentary filmmaker. He edited a one-hour version of the film for the PBS series “American Masters” which aired in 1997. The Ginsberg film also won the prestigious International Documentary Association Award of Excellence in 1994. The film was revised after Ginsberg’s passing and the final cut was completed for the tribute DVD which was released in 2007.

He has taught filmmaking in Chicago at Columbia College and at the University of Illinois. In 1973 he was instrumental in creating the award-winning Film Production Department at the University of Colorado. Jerry specialized in teaching the short narrative and the personal documentary which opened many students to the possibility of becoming both narrative and documentary filmmakers. In 2006 Jerry won the University of Colorado Award for Teaching. He retired from CU in 2008. He is now co-producing a feature documentary on climate change entitled “Chasing Ice.”


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