Seeing the World in a New Way

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

News and Events by Category
- March 1, 2015

(In his booklet, this is how Robert Drew described the directions reality filmmaking took after “Primary.”)


After “Primary” came two proposals, the first from Time to film an automobile race in Indianapolis, where it owned a TV station, the second from ABC to film Latin America, “because CBS just did Africa.”

I resisted the race as too trivial and the continent as too sweeping. But “Primary” had pointed two directions for candid filmmaking to develop and Indianapolis and Latin America led those directions.

“Primary” combined the subject matter of documentary and the progression of drama. The next step could be for this kind of filmmaking to be seen as an addition to existing forms or as an original form in itself. But adding candidness to documentary would not change its basic purpose – to convey information – or its basic method – exposition. Candid Drama, however, would add a new purpose – to convey, movie-like, strong experience – and a new method – story-telling through real characters in action. Drama and Documentary. Experience and Exposition. Indianapolis and Latin America.

At the Indianapolis race track I heard a driver telling how he turned a corner. He spoke with such passion that it raised hairs on the back of my neck. Eddie Sachs had driven faster than any other qualifier and would begin the race from the front row, inside – on the pole. Eddie was so excited that he could hardly control himself.

To me the race suddenly became untrivial. When Eddie led the pack roaring through the start, I had five cameras rolling. Eddie came within an ace of winning the race, then suffered a mechanical failure. Leacock and I were with him as he wandered dazed, waving at a crowd that was ignoring him. “Next year, Eddie,” his wife said.

The next year he again led and lost and the next he died in a fiery collision. When “On The Pole” opened a program of our films in a theatre in Paris, the top ten critics there rated it above all Hollywood films of that season.

Then came “Yanki No!” I protested that I could “do” a continent only if I found characters caught up in a story that would reveal a great deal about that continent. Then a story materialized.

At a meeting in Costa Rica, the U.S. would force the expulsion of Cuba from the Organization of American States. Latin America would then explode with protests. In Havana, Fidel Castro would whip a crowd of a million into a frenzy. I imagined mobs charging the camera shouting, “Yanki No!”

A week later in Caracas they were doing just that and Ricky and I, on the scene, were grateful to be able to duck into a parked car. But by combining candid humanity with documentary exposition, we were able to allow the actions of diplomats, slum dwellers and protesters to drive home the problems and attitudes confronting the U.S. south of its border.





Yanki No! was praised right and left.






ABC contracted for more documentaries. Now I would have the opportunity to produce a candid series.


(A hand-drawn graphic Drew used to plan out how to edit the footage for Yanki No! into a narrative. Drew and his yellow legal pads became legendary at Drew Associates. Drew insisted on screening all daily rushes of all films in production and he scribbled copious notes onto yellow legal pads. He carried these writing pads with him on the train [he commuted into New York City from his home in Darien, Connecticut] and often worked out strategic issues by drawing graphics.)



Sort Films
By Alphabet
By Year
Filter by
See A Film You Like?

Films currently available for consumer purchase can be found here:

To request rights for public screenings or clip licensing of Drew Associates films, email

All of our original film prints are on deposit at the Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Not all films currently exist in digital form. If you are interested in a digital copy of a film, email

Learn more

© Drew Associates 2016

Designed by Visually Dynamic