Love of Art and the Art of Love

Latest entries

“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 it was like to be there in 1960 when Ruby Bridges, Tessie Prevost, and other young African-American children bravely integrated the William Frantz Elementary School 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 Oscar for Feature Documentary, the third time the filmmakers who won this award went on to capture the year’s Academy Award. The Robert and Anne 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 early in his career to three others who had similar visions: Robert Drew, Richard Leacock, and Albert Maysles. That team invented a new form of Read More

2018 Drew Award Winners Announced

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, the filmmaking team behind Meru and this year’s Free Solo, are the winners of the 2018 Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence, which recognizes a mid-career filmmaker distinguished for observational cinema. They will share a $5,000 cash prize sponsored by Drew Associates. The award will be presented Read More

2017 Drew Award Winners Announced

Filmmaking partners Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady are the winners of the 2017 Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence, which recognizes a mid-career filmmaker distinguished for observational cinema. They will share a $5,000 cash prize sponsored by Drew Associates. The award will be presented at the Visionaries Tribute Award Luncheon at the DOC NYC Read More

2016 Drew Award Winner Announced

Dawn Porter, director of “Trapped,” is the winner of the 2016 Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence, which recognizes a mid-career filmmaker distinguished for observational cinema. She will receive a $5,000 cash prize sponsored by Drew Associates. The award will be presented at the Visionaries Tribute Award Luncheon at the DOC NYC Festival Read More

Richard Brody: ‘The Unified Field of Cinematic Activity’

In his inimitable way, Richard Brody of The New Yorker probes the connecting points between filmmakers and their art of observational cinema in his most recent review of Albert and David Maysles’ work (with a nod to Robert Drew), screening now at a beautiful retrospective at The Film Forum. Read Brody’s full essay here.

Disc Review: Boston Globe on Drew’s Kennedy Films

Watching the inter-cut scenes of Hubert Humphrey shaking hands with farmers, then John F. Kennedy stirring young women into a “pre-Beatlemania frenzy,” Boston Globe reviewer Peter Keough had this to say about the films in The Criterion Collection’s re-mastered disc release of The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates: “…the point is clear: The Read More

JFK’s Wisconsin Primary

Since 1960 every Democratic Presidential nominee has won the Wisconsin primary. Learn more about the 1960 Wisconsin primary where JFK solidified his position as one of the most important figures in American Politics at The Criterion Collection. Criterion provides insight about this historic election with clips from Primary, the revolutionary documentary providing never before seen insight Read More

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 R.J. Cutler, the films will focus on the inherent drama of the American electoral system. The two films, “Primary” and “Crisis: Behind A Presidential Commitment,” 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 picking films to add to its collection, and its process of remastering them for optimal visual and audio quality, the night will also feature discussions Read More

Kennedy Films Join The Criterion Collection

Remastered for unparalleled visual and audio quality, the four Kennedy films produced by Robert Drew and his Associates, will be released on disc by The Criterion Collection on April 26. These are the classic films that form the bedrock of what President John F. Kennedy understood would be a new form of history. Drew and 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 trained the world’s first sync-sound camera rig on John F. Kennedy campaigning for president. Drew set out to prove that there was a superior way Read More

Filmmaker Kim Longinotto To Receive 2015 Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence

(from the Oct. 13, 2015 DOC NYC press release)  The Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence goes to a mid-career filmmaker distinguished for observational cinema. This year’s recipient is Kim Longinotto, who will receive a $5,000 cash prize sponsored by Drew Associates. For more than thirty years, Longinotto has made acclaimed documentaries that Read More

Laura Poitras to Receive First-Ever Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence

(from October 31, 2014 DOC NYC press release) Laura Poitras (CITIZENFOUR) will receive DOC NYC’s first annual Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence, a $5000 prize to celebrate the work of a mid-career documentary maker upholding the traditions of observational cinema. The award will be formally presented at the DOC NYC Visionaries Tribute at Read More

Robert Drew, Pioneering Documentary Filmmaker, Dies at 90

Documentary filmmaker Robert L. Drew, a father of American cinéma vérité, died today at his home in Sharon, Connecticut. He was 90 years old. Drew and his associates pioneered a new kind of reality filmmaking in the early 1960s that is now a staple of the documentary form. Drew made more than 100 films over Read More

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- July 1, 2015

With the network news departments closing their doors to independent film producers, Robert Drew looked to arts programming to keep experimenting with his filmmaking ideas.

For the Bell Telephone Hour he made films on jazz greats like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman, classical musicians like Yehudi Menuhin, and the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center.

He started with just a few films in the first year, and by the second year Bell Telephone asked Drew to produce all 12 hours in its series. “For once I turned down business,” Drew later wrote. “I preferred to hand-make 6 hours myself rather than 12 through other people, a decision I found most rewarding then and a tendency I have cultivated ever since.”

Drew won an Emmy for the film “Man Who Dances: Edward Villella,” about one of the world’s great ballet dancers. Edward Villella was the principal dancer at the New York City Ballet and the film contrasts his grace and power onstage with the physical torture Villella endures backstage as a result of his punishing performance schedule.

The film, which the Saturday Review hailed as “the greatest dance film of the decade,” was edited by a new employee at Drew Associates, Anne Gilbert. Fresh from the graduate film program at New York University, Anne had risen quickly in the Drew organization and had won the job as the lead editor for the Villella film. Her experience as a dancer herself added an extra level of sensitivity and understanding to what Villella was experiencing. That expertise helped her edit an exquisite film, that interweaves flawless performances of Balanchine’s work with footage of rehearsals, down-time and doctor visits.

Drew and Gilbert worked closely, late into the night. There was a spark between them. Drew’s first marriage was already rocky. It wasn’t long before Drew got a divorce and married Anne Gilbert, now Anne Drew. The two were inseparable filmmaker partners for the rest of their lives.

The turbulence Drew was experiencing getting commissions to produce cinema verite films pushed the two Drews to take on other work. He pursued and directed his only feature film, “The Sun Ship Game,” which Anne edited, about the world of soaring — engine-less glider planes racing each other for time and distance. Soaring had become one of his personal passions; Anne also learned how to pilot a glider. They mixed their pleasure with business and produced a film that’s become a kind of cult classic in the soaring world, though it did not fare well at the box office.

Drew kept himself in business by producing commercials, corporate and industrial films. Drew’s eldest son, Thatcher Drew, joined the company as a producer, correspondent and cinematographer. He worked on films including “Men of the Tall Ships,” “The Sun Ship Game,” and “Who’s Out There?” before leaving to start his own film production company.

Here’s how Robert Drew later described the period: “Suddenly I was hit with the works — commercials, corporate and industrial films, for people many of whom knew or cared nothing about candidness or reality. They had many subjects and purposes — science and space for NASA; commercials and corporate films for IBM, Westinghouse and LTV; a feature-length film for theatres on my sport, soaring; “Images of Einstein” and “Parade of the Tall Ships.”

“It was fun to be unhinged from theories and responsibilities to them. It was a game, trying to write someone else’s postcards from home — how Orson Welles could use his “War of the Worlds” to open a Carl Sagan inquiry into “Who’s Out There?”

“Of course, I kept on finding ways to look into people, including a long-lens, slow-motion look at Apollo 9 astronauts bobbing inside their space helmets.”

That last film, titled “The Space Duet of Spider and Gumdrop,” features a soundtrack of a version of The Beatle’s “Yellow Submarine.” That note of whimsy was edited into the film by Anne Drew.


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