Film Series

Kramer Vs. Kramer: Screening and Conversation

October 19, 2011

Legal drama film Kramer Vs. Kramer focuses on a couple’s separation and the father’s experience raising his son alone. Tensions and wounds deepen when a heated custody battle arises over their son.

Director, Robert Benton, author, Avery Corman, and attorney, Raoul Felder, joined FOLCS for a screening and discussion.


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Robert Benton

Robert Benton, Academy Award–winning director and screenwriter, was raised in Waxahachie, Texas, earned his BFA degree from the University of Texas, and moved to New York for his Master’s at Columbia University. He went to work at Esquire Magazine as the assistant to the art director before being drafted into the Army, where he was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Benton returned to Esquire Magazine after his discharge from the service and was soon promoted to art director. While at Esquire he co-authored The In and Out Book with Harvey Schmidt. In 1966 his first screenplay, Bonnie and Clyde, co-written with David Newman, went into production with Arthur Penn directing. That same year the Benton-Newman musical It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. It’s Superman! opened on Broadway.

The success of Bonnie and Clyde resulted in a contract with Warner Brothers for whom Benton and Newman first scripted There Was a Crooked Man, which Joseph Mankiewicz directed as well as What’s up Doc directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Benton then made his directorial debut with Bad Company, co-written with Newman and starring Jeff Bridges. He then wrote and directed The Late Show starring Art Carney and Lily Tomlin.

In 1978, Benton re-teamed with Newman and Newman’s wife, Leslie, to create the screenplay for the box-office hit Superman starring Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando, and Margot Kidder. His next project, Kramer vs. Kramer, starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, won the Best Picture Academy Award and earned Benton two Oscars for Best Screenplay and Best Director.

Benton’s career includes such films as Still of the Night, Nadine, Places in the Heart (which earned him an Oscar for best original screenplay), and Billy Bathgate based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow. He also directed Nobody’s Fool, which he adapted from the novel by Richard Russo and for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for adapted screenplay. He went on to direct Twilight, which he co-wrote with Richard Russo. He directed The Human Stain. He co-wrote Ice Harvest with Richard Russo. His most recent film was Feast of Love.

Avery Corman

Avery Corman is the author of the novel Kramer vs. Kramer. His other novels include Oh, God!, The Old Neighborhood, 50, Prized Possessions, and A Perfect Divorce, among others. Foreign language editions of his novels have been published throughout the world. A native New Yorker, Mr. Corman gifted to the City of New York a restored basketball court in his childhood schoolyard that became a catalyst for the creation of the City Parks Foundation. He has served on the foundation’s board since its inception in 1989. Mr. Corman was never divorced; he was married for 37 years until his wife’s passing in 2004. Judy Corman, a vice president at Scholastic, masterminded the publicity for the launch and subsequent publication of the Harry Potter books. Their two sons are Matt, a screenwriter, and Nick, who works in business development in Silicon Valley.

Raoul Felder

Raoul Felder is an attorney and author. He has practiced matrimonial and family law for over forty years. His clients have included politicians, celebrities, professional athletes, and film and TV stars.

Prior to practicing matrimonial law, Felder was a successful prosecutor. In 1961, he was Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York and, in 1964, he was a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney. In 2003, he was appointed by the Governor to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct and elected its chair in 2006. He is a member of the Character and Fitness Committee, appointed by the Appellate Division.