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
Selina Chignall joins the realscreen team as a staff writer. Prior to working with rs, she covered lobbying activity at Hill Times Publishing. She also spent a year covering the Hill as a journalist with iPolitics. Her beat focused on youth, education, democratic reform, innovation and infrastructure. She holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University and a Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.