Hope Anderson was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Japan, where her exposure to films ranged from samurai movies to Hollywood blockbusters and documentaries like “Tokyo Olympiad” and “The Endless Summer.” After earning her BA Magna cum Laude at Wellesley College, where she won the History prize, she pursued graduate studies in Japanese History at the University of California, Berkeley before leaving to work as a program officer at The Asia Foundation, a non-profit organization headquartered in San Francisco.
Since relocating to Los Angeles and starting her film career, she has worked as a story analyst, freelance writer, director and producer. Her first documentary, “Jim Thompson, Silk King,” (2001) shot on location in Thailand, Los Angeles, New York, London and Avignon, France, is a feature-length biography of the Thai silk magnate whose 1967 disappearance remains one of Asia’s great unsolved mysteries. Interviews with Thompson’s surviving family and friends, combined with archival photos, film and contemporary footage, tell the story of a war hero, economic missionary, architect, designer and art collector whose life and work have been overshadowed by the circumstances of his presumed demise. The film won Best Documentary at the Berkeley Video and Film Festival and was broadcast on France’s Channel 5.
A companion piece, “The Jim Thompson House and Art Collection,” (2004) is an in-depth look at Thompson’s home, now a museum and the second-most visited tourist attraction in Bangkok. Featuring interviews with Robert L. Brown, a leading authority on Thai art and G. Taylor Louden, a preservation architect, the documentary examines Thompson’s first-rate collection of Southeast Asian art and the landmark hybrid Thai house that contains it. Like its predecessor, “The Jim Thompson House and Art Collection” was broadcast on France’s Channel 5.
Anderson’s documentary, “Under the Hollywood Sign,” (2009) is both a personal film and a cultural history of Beachwood Canyon, her bucolic neighborhood that is home to the Hollywood Sign as well as a wide variety of actors, writers and thinkers. Shot over 26 months, the film combines new HD footage with interviews, archival footage and stills. Its 35 interviewees include Laura Archera Huxley, widow of Aldous Huxley, Hugh Hefner and actor Bill Pullman. Both a valentine to a unique urban village and an examination of its intellectual and spiritual development over the past 130 years, “Under the Hollywood Sign,” contains the first full biography of Peg Entwistle, the accomplished young actress whose 1932 suicide helped transform the Sign from billboard to national monument. Interviews with Peg’s brother and niece as well as previously unseen letters, photos and documents from the Entwistle family archive cast new light on this tragic and misunderstood figure.
In 2013 Anderson published two eBooks. The first, On Blade Runner: Four Essays, is a multi-faceted exploration of the acclaimed 1983 film. The second, Peg Entwistle and The Hollywood Sign, features critical essays, a script, a production diary and previously unpublished photos of Entwistle and the production of “Peg Entwistle’s Last Walk,” Anderson’s short feature film about the actress’s last hour. Both books are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other eBook sellers. A new DVD, “Peg Entwistle: The Life and Death of an Actress,” contains both the short feature and a biographical documentary and will be released shortly on Amazon.