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Cinema Verite Documentary Filmmaker Anne Drew Dies at 70

Cinema Verite Documentary Filmmaker Anne Drew Dies at 70

Anne Drew, who was a central partner in the production company Drew Associates with her husband Robert Drew (“Primary”) and an early leader in the cinema verite movement has died at the age of 70.  Here, her husband writes about the long legacy Ms. Drew leaves behind.  — Bryce J. Renninger

Anne Drew, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, died April 12 at her home in Sharon, Conn., after a long bout with lung cancer. As a central partner for more than four decades in our documentary film company Drew Associates, Anne edited and produced cinema verite films on ballet, war, Duke Ellington, Indira Gandhi, and President John F. Kennedy, among others. Her work was broadcast on television and celebrated at film festivals worldwide.

Anne was fearless in going after her stories. Filming in mobs in India, or being arrested by Noriega’s thugs in Panama, or facing armed militiamen in Montana, she produced films with a human touch that moved and informed.

Anne was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 4, 1941. She grew up in New York, attended Mount Holyoke College, and received her master’s degree from New York University’s film school. She joined Drew Associates in 1967. The first film she edited was “Man Who Dances: Edward Villella” (1968), on a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. It won an Emmy Award.

Anne was known for her warm and friendly manner in professional dealings and in “Dialogue,” a woman’s discussion group, where she was elected president a number of times over the years. In 1970, Anne married Robert Drew.

Anne Drew’s “Kathy’s Dance” (1977), about dancer Kathy Posin, won the New York Film Festival Blue Ribbon.

Anne traveled often to India to produce films on two prime ministers, Indira Gandhi and her son, Rajiv Gandhi. “Herself, Indira Gandhi” (1982), won the Global Village Festival first prize and a Cine Golden Eagle.

Anne later worked with me on editing her India films together with a previous Drew Associates film on Jawaharlal Nehru to make “Life and Death of Dynasty” (1991), the story of India’s Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty. The 90-minute special was broadcast by PBS and the BBC.

Anne edited more than a dozen one-hour broadcast specials, including programs on violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin, jazz great Duke Ellington, and President John F. Kennedy. Anne co-produced prize-winning television specials with me, including “Marshall High Fights Back” (Frontline – 1984), “Your Flight is Cancelled” (Frontline – 1988), and “For Auction: An American Hero” (1986 – Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for Best Documentary).

Anne also produced “From Two Men and a War” (2005), an account of my experiences as a fighter pilot in WWII, and how my friendship with Ernie Pyle contributed to the development of the groundbreaking documentary style cinema verite.

The most recent film Anne produced was “A President to Remember: In The Company of John F. Kennedy,” broadcast on HBO in January 2012.

Anne moved to Sharon, Conn., in 2006. She loved the ballet, gardening, and travel, particularly to Finland, where she had many friends. She is survived by myself, her husband of 42 years; her brother, Peter Gilbert; her sister, Dorothy Gilbert Goldstone; and her stepchildren, Thatcher Drew, Lisa Drew, and Derek Drew.

Films that Anne edited and produced are being preserved by the archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Services will be held in Sharon, Conn. on April 29 and in New York City on May 6. 

Below are two films in the library of Indiewire’s parent company SnagFilms from Drew Associates.:

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