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The Paley Center for Media Celebrates Cinema Verité at 50 during DOCFEST2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

New York, NY-The Paley Center for Media today announced a special lineup of events celebrating the fiftieth anniversaries of the film Primary, its founding of the American cinema verité, the company, Drew Associates that made the film, and the Presidency of its subject, John F. Kennedy. Events will include an October 6th screening of Primary with excerpts from its antecedents Weightlessness and Bull Fight, that will reunite Drew, Maysles, Pennebaker, and Leacock to discuss the making of Primary and the ideas and experiments that led to a new form of filmmaking. Over the next three weeks the Paley Center will screen eight rarely seen masterworks from Drew's early development of cinema verité.

 Then, on Wednesday, October 27th the Paley Center will screen A President to Remember: In the Company of John F. Kennedy, a new film by Robert Drew narrated by Alec Baldwin. Snagfilms, the Paley Center's documentary partner, will also be making classic Robert Drew documentaries available on its website.  The Paley Center will also be screening cinema verité documentaries from our collection.

A half century ago, Robert Drew and his filmmaking colleagues- Al Maysles, DA Pennebaker, and Richard Leacock- revolutionized the way we look at the world, capturing  freewheeling drama from real life.  Drew Associates developed film equipment light enough to move freely with real subjects through crucial points in their lives. Their creative breakthrough was Primary, which captured the dynamic struggle between Presidential hopefuls John Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey seeking votes in Wisconsin.  Selected for the first Library of Congress National Registry of outstanding American films, Primary, according to critic Matt Zoller Seitz, "had as immense and measureable an impact on non fiction film making as Birth of a Nation had on fiction film making...Drew is the D.W. Griffith of documentary, the guy who figured out how to show a story rather than tell it."

A President to Remember: In the Company of John F. Kennedy is composed by Robert Drew from his acclaimed John Kennedy films, which also represent the genesis of the cinema verité movement in America. This new documentary narrated by Alec Baldwin brings to vivid life the Camelot years of the early sixties. We experience the Kennedy White House grappling with major issues, from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the desegregation of the University of Alabama, as well as the shock and sorrow of the assassination. After the screening, Drew will discuss with Alec Baldwin why he went through his archives to create a new Kennedy film for the 21st century.

From the Paley Center collection: Starting October 1 through December 31, the Paley Center will also present numerous Robert Drew -related programs from its collection of nearly 150,000 programs. Robert Drew experimented with new forms of the observational documentary throughout the sixties and beyond. He looked for decisive moments in all sorts of human endeavor, including the arts, sports, and the legal profession. We have worked with Robert Drew in selecting exemplary documentaries showcasing the development of his cinema verité.


Wednesday October 6 and Sunday October 10 at 1pm

The Chair

Days before the execution is to take place, lawyers and leading players of a parole board hearing fight over the death penalty sentence of convicted murderer Paul Crump. Famed lawyer Louis Nizer argues to save Crump from the electric chair. Directed by Robert Drew (1962; 58 minutes) -Cannes Film Festival Special Jury Prize; New York Film Festival First Program.


Storm Signal

An intense documentary study about a young married couple in love, and addicted to heroin. Storm Signal covers four months in which drugs totally subvert the couple's aspirations. (1966; 53 minutes) -First Prize, Venice Film Festival


Wednesday October 13 and Sunday October 17 at 1pm

Susan Starr

The documentary follows nineteen-year old pianist Susan Starr as she prepares to compete in one the world's most prestigious piano competitions. (1962; 54 minutes) -Outstanding Film of the Year, London Film Festival



The camera captures the young Jane Fonda rehearsing for her first starring role on Broadway. Her  play, The Fun Couple, opens to devastating critical notices. Directed by Hope Ryden and DA Pennebaker. (1962; 54 minutes) -London Film Festival; Outstanding Film


Wednesday October 20 and Sunday October 24 at 1pm

On the Pole - EDDIE SACHS

Race car driver Eddie Sachs, is captured before, during, and after qualifying for the pole position of the Indianapolis 500. This landmark sports film was broadcast on CBS. (1960; 53 minutes)


Mooney vs. Fowle

Director James Lipscomb depicts the days leading up to the football championship between Edison High School and Miami High School to determine the best team in the state of Florida. The documentary contrasts the teams coaches, Mooney and Fowle, as one of them telegraphs defeat to his players and achieves it most painfully. (1961; 57 minutes) -Outstanding Film London Film Festival


Wednesday October 27 and Sunday October 31 at 1pm

Man Who Dances

From six months in the life of  premier ballet dancer Edward Villella. After overwork in non-stop dancing for major productions at The New York City Ballet, Villella struggles to maintain his strength on a day where he must perform multiple times. (1968; 54 minutes) -Emmy Award; First Prize, International Cinema Exhibition Bilboa; Cine Golden Eagle


Kathy's Dance

Dancer and choreographer Kathy Posin composes a new dance. She also explores her philosophy of dance as she takes her troupe on a tour to premiere her new work. (1977; 28 minutes) -Blue Ribbon, American Film Festival; Silver Hugo, Chicago Film Festival; Cine Golden Eagle



For more information about admission and tickets, please visit





The Paley Center for Media, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, leads the discussion about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, radio, and emerging platforms for the professional community and media-interested public. Drawing upon its curatorial expertise, an international collection, and close relationships with the leaders of the media community, the Paley Center examines the intersections between media and society. The general public can access the collection and participate in programs that explore and celebrate the creativity, the innovations, the personalities, and the leaders who are shaping media. Through the global programs of its Media Council and International Council, the Paley Center also serves as a neutral setting where media professionals can engage in discussion and debate about the evolving media landscape. Previously known as The Museum of Television & Radio, the Paley Center was founded in 1975 by William S. Paley, a pioneering innovator in the industry.  For more information, please visit /.


SnagFilms features free ad-supported viewing of more than 840 award-winning titles from some of the greatest names in documentary film production and distribution. Since its launch in July 2008, SnagFilms' library has been featured on over 1 billion web pageviews, via more than 25,000 web pages, including throughout the AOL channels, and the websites of The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Politico, hundreds of blogs, and thousands of social network pages.  OVGuide named SnagFilms a Top Site of 2008 and MovieMaker Magazine named SnagFilms to its annual list of "50 Best Websites for Moviemakers." indieWIRE, the 13-year old leading news, information and networking site for independent-minded filmmakers, the industry and moviegoers alike, has been a vital part of SnagFilms since its acquisition in August, 2008.  The company was founded by digital entrepreneur, documentary film producer, professional sports teams' owner and philanthropist Ted Leonsis, and is additionally backed by AOL co-founder and Revolution LLC Chairman, Steve Case; philanthropist and former digital executive Jean Case; operating executive and philanthropic venture capitalist Miles Gilburne; and a group led by Ted and Jim Pedas, founders of Circle Films.