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‘Jane,’ ‘The Chair’ and More Drew Associates Documentaries to Stream on SundanceNow Doc Club

'Jane,' 'The Chair' and More Drew Associates Documentaries to Stream on SundanceNow Doc Club

This afternoon at the DOC NYC Visionaries Tribute, a new award called the Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence was presented in collaboration with an additional announcement: SundanceNow Doc Club, a streaming video service dedicated to documentaries, will be presenting a collection of 10 films from Robert Drew and his production company Drew Associates. Drew formed the company in 1960, assembling a team of like-minded filmmakers that included Ricky Leacock, D.A. Pennebaker and Albert Maysles.
The ten films in the collection were produced between 1961 and 1966 and serve as a time capsule of America in the 1960s, capturing topics ranging from race and capital punishment to contemporary theatre and sports. Drew’s film philosophy, as expressed in a 1962 interview, was that the documentary should be “a theater without actors; it would be plays without playwrights; it would be reporting without summary and opinion; it would be the ability to look in on people’s lives at crucial times from which you could deduce certain things and see a kind of truth that can only be gotten from personal experience.”
The service launches today, November 14 with 1962’s “The Chair,” which follows lawyers Donald Moore and Louis Nizer as they fight to save inmate Paul Crump from the electric chair. “The Chair” will stream for free for a month. Beginning December 1, the rest of the 10 docs will roll out, including 1962’s “Jane,” a documentary chronicling Jane Fonda as she rehearse for a Broadway show that earned extremely poor reviews.
The entire list of films is below (synopses courtesy of Drew Associates):
“Jane” (1962)

A young Jane Fonda rehearses for a starring role on Broadway. As the daughter of the famous Henry Fonda, Jane strives to prove her acting chops in live theater, which she believes is the true measure of success. The film follows Jane through demanding rehearsals, testing the play for out-of-town audiences, and, finally, opening night in New York. Though her show opens to devastating reviews, Jane’s love of acting, her determination and her resilience shine through the biting criticism.
“The Chair” (1962)
”The Chair” follows the efforts of lawyers Donald Moore and Louis Nizer as they fight to save Paul Crump from the electric chair. In the tense days leading up to a parole board hearing, the men work tirelessly to rescue Crump through an appeal of rehabilitation –unprecedented in the state of Illinois – and, after the hearing, anxiously await the governor’s verdict. Allowing viewers to experience the high-pressure chain of events along with Crump, his prosecutors and his defenders, the film opens a window into the politics of the American prison system. THE CHAIR will be available for free to stream for one month, beginning Friday, November 14.
“YANKI NO!” (1960) 

“YANKI NO!”follows the actions of diplomats, slum dwellers and protesters in Latin America following the United States-led decision to expel Cuba from the Organization of American States. The film juxtaposes the candid humanity of life in a Caracas, Venezuela slum with the actions of diplomats and political figures, including Cuba’s Fidel Castro addressing a rally of one million people.
“The Children Were Watching” (1961)

”The Children Were Watching” depicts the violent demonstrations in New Orleans during the first week of public school racial integration. Six-year-old Yolanda Gabrielle, one of the few white children attending an integrated school, endures the taunts of the pro-segregation crowd as Tessie Prevost, also six, is forced to enter the school under the protection of U.S. Marshals. THE CHILDREN WERE WATCHING makes the violence and hatred that accompanied integration a visceral experience for the viewers.
“Mooney Vs. Fowle” (1961) 

Concentrating on the state high school championship held at the Orange Bowl in Miami, “Mooney Vs. Fowle” follows two coaches as they prepare their teams for a legendary showdown. Built up over 40 years, the rivalry between the two schools has reached a fever pitch that draws more than 40,000 spectators. Vividly bringing to life the intensity, pressure and excitement swirling around one epic face-off, the film surveys the stakes of intense competition.
“On the Pole: Eddie Sachs” (1961)
One of Drew’s early masterpieces, “On the Pole: Eddie Sachs” focuses on famous race car driver Eddie Sachs before, during and after the 1960 and 1961 Indianapolis 500. With intense concentration, the film captures the overwhelming anticipation and fervor that builds as Sachs prepares to keep his lead position in the starting lineup (or, “on the pole”). The film offers a penetrating look at Sachs and the high-pressure world of racing, allowing viewers to experience what it feels like to participate in one of the world’s most dangerous sports.
“Susan Starr” (1962) 

“Susan Starr” conveys the story of a young American concert pianist as she prepares to compete in a prestigious international piano competition at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House. Following Susan through the hectic days leading up to the event and through the competition itself, the film captures the intense reality of an aspiring young artist facing the challenge of her life.
“Mission to Malaya” (1964) 

“Mission to Malaya” tells the moving story of Marjorie Benning, a young Peace Corps volunteer nurse, and the first days in her new and demanding life on the Malayan island of Langkawi. Marjorie faces a crisis when a village woman is dying in childbirth, and together they must struggle through a storm to get to the mainland hospital, six hours away.
“Letters from Vietnam” (1965)

The first candid sync sound film of men in combat, “Letters from Vietnam”tells the story of Second Lt. Gary Ramage, a U.S. helicopter pilot who flies dozens of combat missions under fire all the while recording audio letters home to his wife and infant son.
“Storm Signal” (1966) 

The first film of its kind, “Storm Signal” enters the lives of a married couple living in the Bronx as they slip further into the clutches of heroin addiction. When the husband is imprisoned for stealing to supply their habit, the wife is forced to either find her own supplier or break her addiction. Intimately filmed through living with the couple for four months, “Storm Signal” studies the devastating impact of addiction on the lives of families.

READ MORE: 5 Must-See Documentaries at DOC NYC 2014

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