The founding film of American cinéma vérité follows John F. Kennedy as he campaigns for the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination.

Adventures on the New Frontier

A portrait of John F. Kennedy's inauguration and early days in office offers an unprecedented look inside the workings of the White House.

Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment

Inside the Oval Office and on the steps of the University of Alabama as the Kennedys confront George Wallace on racial integration.

Faces of November

An elegy for President Kennedy, as told by the grief-stricken faces of mourners filing by his coffin in the Capitol Rotunda and at his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Kennedy Films

New 2K digital restorations of four classic films that form the bedrock of what President John F. Kennedy understood would be a new form of history.

Filmmaker Robert Drew

Interview with Robert Drew


"Drew is the D.W. Griffith of documentaries – the guy who figured out how to show a story rather than tell it."

Matt Zoller Seitz, New York Press

"No filmmaker has changed his branch of cinema more drastically, enduringly, or quietly than did Robert Drew."

Richard, The New Yorker

"Modern art has Picasso. Rock-n-Roll has Bill Haley. And the documentary film has Robert Drew. All of us who make nonfiction movies can trace our lineage to what he created."

Michael Moore, filmmaker

American Cinema Verite

Origins of Reality Filmmaking

Robert Drew had a vision for a new kind of film, one that captured the drama of real life to allow viewers a direct experience of other worlds. With his 1960 film, PRIMARY, Drew and his Associates revolutionized the documentary. Drew continued to produce groundbreaking films for another 50 years.


Without scripts, directors or talking heads, the camera follows people freely through their stories and the footage is edited to convey the sense of what it was like to be there. Drew likened this method of real-life storytelling to a theatre without actors and plays without playwrights.



Drew’s style of filmmaking gave him unrivaled access to President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy himself grasped that the technique could create a new form of history, once musing to Drew that he wished he could have observed FDR in the 24 hours before he declared war on Japan.



Drew worked at Life Magazine in the 1950s and wondered why television’s moving images didn’t generate the electrifying excitement of candid still photography. He set out to change that and founded a company that produced films that revolutionized the documentary.




  • 1961 American Film Festival Blue Ribbon Award
  • 1961 Robert J. Flaherty Award for Best Documentary
  • 1961 London Film Festival Outstanding Film
  • One of the first 20 films named to the Library of Congress National Film Registry

Crisis: Behind A Presidential Commitment

  • 1964 CINE Golden Eagle
  • First Prize, 1964 Venice Film Festival
  • First Prize, 1964 International Documentary Film Festival, Bilboa, Spain
  • Invited Participant, 1963 New York Film Festival

Faces of November

  • First Prize, Plaque Lion de St. Mark, 1964 Venice International Film Festival
  • First Prize, San Giorgio Statuette, 1964 Venice International Film Festival
  • XIII International Film Week, 1964, Mannheim, Germany

"These films are about the pain and joy and poetry of being human, and they are a testament to the patience, sensitivity and respect that the great filmmakers at Drew Associates paid to their subjects."

Documentary magazine, Fall 2013

Promotions and Events

Full Frame to Screen Two Drew Kennedy Films

The 19th Annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival will feature two Drew Associates films as part of this year’s thematic program, “Perfect and Otherwise: Documenting American Politics.” Curated by filmmaker Read More

Criterion Live! to Feature Drew Kennedy Films

On April 6, The Criterion Collection will host its first-ever “Criterion Collection Live!” event at The Metrograph in Manhattan. Designed to give ticketholders a peek into Criterion’s discriminating process for Read More

Rare Drew Films Streaming on SundanceNow

These are rarely seen, cutting-edge films that form the bedrock of early American cinéma vérité. Robert Drew’s vision went far beyond his breakthrough film, PRIMARY, when he and Richard Leacock Read More

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in the News

“The Children Were Watching” Joins The Criterion Channel

The latest Drew Associates classic film to join the lineup at The Criterion Channel is The Children Were Watching. This 26-minute documentary, filmed by Richard Leacock, lets you feel what Read More

2019 Drew Award Winners Announced

Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, the dynamic filmmaking team behind this year’s American Factory, shared the 2019 Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence. American Factory went on to win the Read More

In Memoriam: D.A. Pennebaker

Our hearts are heavy with the news that D.A. Pennebaker, our friend and master filmmaker, has died. His passion to capture life on film, without artifice or interference, led him Read More

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