Coming to theatres (as part of the International Documentary Association’s Oscar-qualifying DocuWeeks) at NYC’s IFC Center this Friday, August 10 and at LA’s Laemmle NoHo 7 on Friday, August 17: RICKY ON LEACOCK
Jane Weiner’s nearly 40-years-in-the-making tribute to her mentor made its world premiere at Brazil’s It’s All True. The film next screened at Bologna’s Biografilm, where the organizers created an award in Leacock’s name.
Richard Leacock, who died early last year, is recognized as one of the most influential documentarians in the world for his revolutionary work in creating low-cost, portable camera and sound recording equipment, and his related work with Robert Drew, DA Pennebaker, and Albert Maysles in developing cinema verité. Just as he learned from the acclaimed Robert Flaherty, working as his cameraman for the documentary hybrid LOUISIANA STORY, novice filmmaker Jane Weiner approached Leacock in 1972 to learn from him as she made a documentary about him. The result, filmed intermittently over the next four decades, and including not only Leacock, but Pennebacker, Drew, and influential French film figures like the Cinématheque Française’s Henri Langlois and master filmmaker Jean Rouch, is clearly a personal labor of love for Weiner. Eschewing conventional approaches to biography, with a linear recitation of the subject’s birth, early life, significant achievements, and death, Weiner instead works with the free-flowing nature of the footage she captured over the years to impart to the viewer “the feeling of being there,” Leacock’s signature. Bookended with Leacock preparing dinner for friends sometime in the 70s, the film travels through his past and future to reveal his life through intimate and engaging interviews and fantastic clips from his work, revealing fascinating details about the origins of observational documentary that his colleagues and he made possible. As such, it’s a must-see for documentary filmmakers and fans, who should recognize and reflect on these pioneers and their achievements.