The master of cinema vérité style Robert Drew dies at 90

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: The man who mastered the cinema art form of documentary filmmaking 'cinema vérité', Robert Drew breathed his last on Wednesday, reportedly. Drew excelled in the style of filmmaking and even influenced a number of directors such as DA Pennebaker and Albert Maysles.

The maverick of a filmmaker, made some 100 films on various hard-hitting issues affecting the society at large. His illustrious career boasts of making a series of television documentaries that worked well with innovations in light, handheld cameras that recorded both sound and pictures.

Drew, who was initially a journalist, once famously said, "Nonfiction filmmakers were afflicted by two problems, one technical, the other spiritual". Directors could work more like journalists, following their subjects for hours and days at a time and capturing revealing moments. Little, if any, voice-over was needed.

He added, "technically, they did not have the equipment to do the sort of work I had in mind. Spiritually, they didn't care about the work because they'd been mistrained. They'd been mistrained because their equipment was so heavy and complicated that it made it impossible to shoot in situations where you could really capture reality."

The Drew films that made a difference were 'The Chair,' a 1963 documentary about a death penalty case in Illinois, and '784 Days That Changed America: From Watergate to Resignation', winner in 1982 of a Peabody award. Interesting, not many know that most of his movies were edited and co-produced by his wife, Anne Drew, who died in 2012.

Drew in an interview with The New York Times in 2013 said, “I wondered why documentaries on television were dull. I had no doubt we could make a lighter camera, and I started with that premise and started finding people who could do that."

The cinema verite expert died peacefully at his home in Sharon, as confirmed by his son Thatcher Drew.

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