Filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus

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    D.A. Pennebaker (Evanston, Illinois, 1925) is widely regarded as one of the founders of the cinéma vérité. He has been working since 1976 with Chris Hegedus (1952), whom he married in 1982.

    They are, among other things, famous for the music films they've made. In the classic Dont Look Back (1967) for instance, Pennebaker followed Bob Dylan during a tour in England. Together, Pennebaker & Hegedus made music films such as Searching for Jimi Hendrix, Depeche Mode 101 and Down From The Mountain, and music videos for artists like Soul Asylum and John Hiatt. The War Room (1993), a look behind the scenes of the Bill Clinton election campaign, was nominated for an Oscar. The duo compiled a Top 10 for IDFA in 1997, which also showed a retrospective of Pennebaker. The Pennebaker Hegedus Films company is run by Pennebaker's son Frazer.

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    Daybreak Express

    • Pennebaker Hegedus Films
    • 1953

    Perhaps D.A. Pennebaker‘s oeuvre can best be compared to one long road movie. With a remarkable talent for being in the right place at the right time, he captured almost all milestones in rock ‘n’ roll history. His swaying camera became a typical stylistic device, setting the pace for all subsequent rockumentaries. Compared to these films, his firstling is very clean. In daybreak express the morning subway races in the direction of New York, set to Duke Ellington‘s music. Owing to the combination of jazz rhythms and shots of sun-drenched skyscrapers the film could be considered a precursor of the video clip.

    Primary

    • Pennebaker Hegedus Films
    • 1960

    In the primary election campaign of 1960, senators John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey engaged for the democratic candidacy. primary reveals how the two candidates clashed with each other with great fierceness, giving rise to preconceptions and slander, and Humphrey warning the farming population against ‘that man from the east’. At any rate, this strategy clearly exposed the difference in character. Robert L. Drew of Drew Associations Films supervised this documentary. He told the democratic candidates that the filmmakers should be allowed to work day and night, under the motto ‘trust us or it cannot be done.’ Drew formed three teams to be able to follow the whole political pandemonium simultaneously. The technically grounded D.A. Pennebaker, once manager of an electronics company, had designed an easily transportable set to be able to edit on location.

    Lambert & Co

    • Pennebaker Hegedus Films
    • 1964

    What gives the films of D.A. Pennebaker their energy is the underlying desire to make everything dance: he wants to make films that have their own momentum. The spectator is meant to be fetched by this inner, non-verbal thrust, not by what is said. As soon as the images demand explanation, they lose too much of their strength, the director feels. According to him the combination of music, architecture and scenery make up the nucleus of a music film. Pennebaker also applied these principles to his documentary film Lambert & co. In 1964 Dave Lambert was the eldest living bebop singer, and rather a maverick with his big beard and thongs. A portrait.

    You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You

    • Pennebaker Hegedus Films
    • 1966

    After Timothy Leary had left Harvard, the apostle of the subculture moved into a country estate in Millbrook to set up a commune with a number of his friends. Here Leary married the model Nanette van Schlebrugge in 1964. The Miles Davis Quartet played at their wedding, without Miles though, and jazz legend Charles Mingus delivered a speech about conjugal fidelity. Other guests were Peggy Hitchcock, her brothers Billy and Tommy, writer friends and members of European royal families. The Puerto Rican showbiz hair stylist Monte Rock 111, who did Nanette‘s hair, brought the Maysles brothers to Millbrook to capture the wedding. This film, for which D.A. Pennebaker did the camera work, was even shown in the art house circuit for a while. To the question how Leary would want to be remembered, he answered much later: ‘in the Guiness Book of Records, as best husband in the universe‘.

    Shake

    • Pennebaker Hegedus Films
    • 1967

    In the summer of 1967 some 50,000 music lovers gathered for a long weekend in northern California. Otis Redding characterised this motley crew of ‘flower children’ at the Monterey Pop Festival as ‘the love crowd’. His sparkling show on Saturday night, accompanied by ‘Booker T & the MG‘s’ and ‘The MarKeys’, made a profound impression. D.A. Pennebaker, also responsible for the classic rock documentaries DON‘T LOOK BACK, MONTEREY POP and ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS, manages to capture the essence of Otis’ performance at Monterey in SHAKE. Redding plays the r&b-classics ‘Shake’, ‘Try a little tenderness’, ‘Respect’, ‘Satisfaction’ and ‘I‘ve been loving you too long’. Six months after Monterey, Otis Redding would die in a plane crash.

    Monterey Pop

    • Pennebaker Hegedus Films
    • 1968

    In 1965 Bob Dylan did a tour of England and it was D.A. Pennebaker who captured it all with his hand-held camera. But when don‘t look back was released in 1967, Pennebaker was busy again in California, where he was recording the now famous Monterey Pop Festival, the first and greatest rock festival in the history of music. In the summer of 1967 50,000 people had travelled to North California to devote themselves not only to love and peace for a long weekend, but particularly to their great musical heroes: The Who, Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas & the Papas, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Animals, Ravi Shankar, Simon & Garfunkel and last but not least Otis Redding, whose legendary show even induced Pennebaker to make, in addition to monterey pop, shake, a separate film of twenty minutes about Otis Redding‘s effervescent performance.

    Jimi Plays Monterey

    • Pennebaker Hegedus Films
    • 1986

    When Jimi Hendrix did a concert at the Monterey pop festival in California in 1967, most visitors were not prepared for what was to come. His nickname ‘the wild man of rock’ had not yet become fully adopted. Between that memorable performance and his early death in 1970 he grew into the legend, that since then is known as one of the greatest guitar players of all times. The film contains footage, never shown before, of the events preceding the show at the Monterey pop festival, and follows the still young Hendrix during his stay in England, where he is putting together a band. Pennebaker also laid his hands on some old tapes from Hendrix‘ estate. The guitarist plays some of his most successful songs and a few covers, including his now world-famous version of ‘Wild thing’ and his version of Dylan‘s ‘Like a rolling stone’.

    Searching for Jimi

    • D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus
    • 1998

    Musicians like Los Lobos, Laurie Anderson and Taylor Dane play Jimi Hendrix songs.

    Company - Original Cast Album

    • Pennebaker Hegedus Films
    • 1970

    The music of the Broadway musical Company is considered the major work of composer Steve Sondheim (West Side Story, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Gypsy). The recording of the musical, that took fifteen hours without interruption, was cut down to one hour of film by D.A. Pennebaker. company was one of the biggest successes at the 1970 New York Film Festival, where the film was shown for the first time, but since then it has seldom been screened again. In the best tradition of cinéma vérité the film depicts the recording sessions, the atmosphere among the musicians and the cast, the exhaustion and a visit to a bar during one of the rare brakes.

    Town Bloody Hall

    • Pennebaker Hegedus Films
    • 1972

    On 30 April 1971 Norman Mailer, author of The prisoner of sex , chaired a public debate between delegates of the women‘s movement in New York Town Hall. Also present were D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus who captured the now renowned discussion in their familiar direct cinema style. Behind the table we see Germaine Greer, Jill Johnston, Diana Trilling and Jacqueline Ceballos. While the audience, including heavyweights like Susan Sontag, Elizabeth Hardwicke and Betty Friedan, keep remarkably quiet, on the stage a very lively and extremely heated discussion begins in which Mailer, to give an example, ‘the male chauvinist par excellence’, is faced with the question in what colour ink he drenches his balls. But also between the panel members themselves some tough nuts are cracked. For instance, Germaine Greer, author of The female eunuch, unexpectedly comes up against Diane Trilling. By that time the lesbian poet Jill Johnston has already left the building, slightly indignant.

    Moon over Broadway

    • Pennebaker Hegedus Films
    • 1997

    In moon over broadway D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus portray TV star and ‘Queen of Comedy’ Carol Burnett and Broadway veteran Philip Bosco, the leading characters in the new Broadway show Moon over Buffalo. Burnett is not sure whether her decision to return to the stage has been such a fortunate one, playwright Ken Ludwig has more or less the same doubts, the cast looks upon the numerous script changes with sorrow, and stage director Tom Moore does his job with an iron discipline without leaving too much room for any input from his actors. All this results in a humoristic glance behind the scenes of America‘s drama factory. D.A. Pennebaker (1925) is one of the founding fathers of direct cinema, the most important documentary school in the United States. Since the seventies he has been working together with his wife Chris Hegedus.

    Only the Strong Survive

    • Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker
    • 2002

    Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker zoom in on forgotten artists from the legendary Motown and Stax labels.

    Startup.com

    • Chris Hegedus, Jehane Noujaim
    • 2001

    The adventures of schoolmates Kaleil and Tom, creators of govWorks.com, during the boom and crash of the first dot com mania.

    The War Room

    • Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker
    • 1993

    Glance behind the scenes of Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign.

    The Return of the War Room

    • Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker
    • 2008

    The sequel of and a reflection on The War Room, which documentary duo D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus made during Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign.

    Down from the Mountain

    • Nick Doob, Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker
    • 2000

    O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?, the film by Joel and Ethan Coen (2000) based on Homer’s epic about Odysseus, is set in the south of the United States, in Mississippi. The music and numerous songs that were used for the film originate from this region. Many veterans of country and bluegrass, musical genres based on traditional North American music, collaborated on the film, alongside newcomers to the genre, turning the soundtrack into a great commercial success. Documentary filmmakers Pennebaker, Hegedus and Doob captured a concert and its preparations in May 2000 in Nashville, where a host of musical celebrities (including Emmylou Harris, John Hartford, Ralph Stanley and Alison Krauss) came together one more time. The film is an account of a musical party, celebrating in style the passion for this purely American music.

    Elaine Stritch at Liberty

    • Nick Doob, Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker, Andy Picheta
    • 2004

    Portrait of the legend Elaine Stritch during the preparations and performances of her last show on Broadway.

    Kings of Pastry

    • D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus
    • 2009

    The best pastry chefs in France compete each year with their wild sugar sculptures for the Collar, a prize that is hard-won to say the least.

    Depeche Mode: 101

    • David Dawkins, Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker
    • 1989

    The film follows British Electropop band Depeche Mode and a bus full of fans on tour across the U.S. to their 101st concert at the Rose Bowl.