Vérité master Richard Leacock passes away

Richard Leacock (pictured), acclaimed English documentarian and one of the pioneers of cinema vérité, has passed away in Paris at the age of 89.
March 24, 2011

Richard Leacock (pictured), acclaimed English documentarian and one of the pioneers of cinema vérité, passed away yesterday (March 23) in Paris, France, at the age of 89.

The filmmaker was highly influential in helping popularize the then-nascent cinema vérité movement in the 1960s, and was renowned for his work with fellow vérité trailblazers Robert Drew, Albert Maysles and D.A. Pennebaker.

Born in London, Leacock grew up on a banana plantation in the Canary Islands, where he made his first film, a 10-minute silent short entitled Canary Bananas, aged 14.

He went on to build up a celebrated portfolio of documentary work, shooting the groundbreaking JFK doc Primary with Drew, and partnering with Pennebaker to form Leacock-Pennebaker.

The latter outfit was responsible for a host of influential documentaries and direct cinema films, including the Bob Dylan doc Dont Look Back. Leacock spent the last 20 years of his life living in Paris.

His passing was confirmed by his daughter, Victoria Leacock-Hoffman, who told realscreen that the filmmaker had most recently been working on a bound memoir and a digital video book entitled The Feeling Of Being There, due to publish later this year.

“He had been preparing for the publication of this book,” she said. “That’s really his legacy now.”

Leacock is survived by his wife of 22 years, Valerie Lalonde, and his five children. Further details of his forthcoming memoir can be found here.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.