Documentarian Robert Drew Dies at 90

Jul 31, 2014

Credit www.realscreen.com

Documentary filmmaker Robert Drew has died at his home in Sharon, Connecticut. A pioneer of the modern documentary, Drew broke new ground with his 1960 political film "Primary" whose subject was John F. Kennedy.

In a video posted on Youtube, he described why he selected JFK as a subject of the film:

"There was this young senator running for president who didn't have a chance," Drew said in the interview. "He was Catholic -- he was too Catholic. He was rich -- he was too rich. He was sort of eastern seaboard, and the president was against him. And I thought, what a wonderful story... I contacted his people, and set up an appointment in Georgetown. It was morning, and Kennedy came down the stairs in his townhouse, coughing and sneezing, and his eyes were blurry, and he was wearing an old bathrobe. He looked at me and he said, 'What do you want?' I said 'I want to place a camera with you, day and night for five days.'"

Drew, who grew up mostly in Kentucky, fought in World War II before becoming a writer and editor for Life magazine. It was there that he developed the journalistic approach he would later apply to his filmmaking.

Often called the father of cinéma vérité, Drew was recognized for elevating documentary films from a once dull and dispassionate genre to an engaging and personal experience. "This is a new form of journalism and we're simply going to watch what happens," Drew said. "We're not going to direct. We're not going to write. We're not going to ask you to do anything -- but we have to be there."