US cinema verite pioneer Robert Drew dies at 90

US cinema verite pioneer Robert Drew dies at 90

LOS ANGELES - US documentary film director Robert Drew, considered the father of American cinema verite, died Wednesday at his home in Connecticut. He was 90 years old.

In the 1960s, Drew developed a camera and microphone that allowed him to record images without a script, providing more flexibility of movement and allowing him to capture "reality" without a narrator. He came to make more than 100 films in the genre.

The protagonist of Drew's first documentary, "Primary" (1960) was then-senator John F. Kennedy during his campaign in Wisconsin to become US president.

A later film, his 1963 film "Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment," focused on the decision by President Kennedy and others to support the rights of African Americans to attend previously all-white schools, and force the University of Alabama to accept two black students.

It is considered a landmark cinema verite film.

Drew won the 1969 Emmy Award for best documentary for "Man Who Dances" about the stress endured by New York City Ballet's then principal dancer Edward Villella.

His celebrated films include "Yanki No!" (1960), focusing on growing anti-American sentiment in Latin America; "The Chair" (1963), about a lawyer who prevented his death row client from being executed in the electric chair; and "Jane" (1962), a film about the beginnings of actress Jane Fonda on Broadway.

Born in Ohio, Drew was widowed two years ago after the death of his wife Anne Drew.

Before becoming a documentary filmmaker, he enlisted in the US Air Force and served as a combat pilot in Italy at the end of World War II. He hid in the mountains for three months to avoid being discovered by German troops after his plane was shot down.

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