How to Smell a Rose: A Visit with Ricky Leacock in Normandy

  • Gina Leibrecht, Les Blank
  • United States
  • 2014
  • 65 min
  • International Premiere
  • Masters
One morning in 1972, documentary legend Richard Leacock (1921-2011) switched on the TV and saw a commercial for The Candidate, a film starring Robert Redford about the U.S. Senate race. To Leacock’s amazement, he knew the scene he saw like the back of his hand. It had been taken directly from the documentary Campaign Manager (1964), for which he and D. A. Pennebaker had followed the head of the campaign for the Republican presidential candidate. In The Candidate, the scene worked like a bad piece of slapstick. So what made the same scene in Campaign Manager so hilarious and tense? As hobby chef Leacock explains the secret of a good pot-au-feu in his home in Normandy, he simultaneously reveals what makes a good documentary work. But you won’t hear Leacock complaining about how everything was better in the old days. The enthusiasm shown by this co-founder of Direct Cinema for the revolutionary portable camera in 1960 is still equally present in the octogenarian’s embracing of new ideas and technological developments decades later. Director Les Blank takes his time with this portrait of his great mentor and teacher, who is happiest working away in his kitchen. In between, we catch beautiful glimpses of Leacock’s extensive oeuvre, as well as some culinary classics.


  • 65 min
  • color / black and white
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: English
Gina Leibrecht, Les Blank
Gina Leibrecht for Les Blank Films, Les Blank for Les Blank Films
Executive producer
Harrod Blank for Les Blank Films, Kevin White for Filmmakers Collaborative SF
Les Blank, Gina Leibrecht
Gina Leibrecht

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