D.A. Pennebaker

D.A. Pennebaker

Highest Rated: 100% 65 Revisited (2007)

Lowest Rated: 59% Al Franken: God Spoke (2006)

Birthday: Jul 15, 1925

Birthplace: Not Available

An innovator in the Direct Cinema style of documentary filmmaking, also known as cinéma vérité, filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker got his start in the 1950s, making experimental films. He went on to make his name as one of the premier documentarians of the latter half of the 20th century, focusing his lens on subjects as diverse as Norman Mailer, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, and Bill Clinton.A native of Evanston, IL, Pennebaker served a stint in the Navy, worked as an engineer, and founded Electronics Engineering (the makers of the first computerized airline reservation system) before beginning his film career. Following his directorial debut, a 1953 film called Daybreak Express that featured a score by Duke Ellington, Pennebaker joined the Filmmakers' Co-op in 1959. Working with other young filmmakers, he began making Direct Cinema documentaries, starting with his 1960 film Primary. A behind-the-scenes look at the Wisconsin Democratic Primary between Presidential candidates Kennedy and Humphrey, the documentary was the first to take a candid look at the everyday goings-on of a Presidential race. Years later, Pennebaker would use this approach to observe the various antics behind the 1992 Presidential candidacy, resulting in the critically lauded The War Room. Following Primary, the director turned his attentions to the theater, with Jane (Fonda), a 1962 documentary that employed the behind-the-scenes tactics of his previous film to document Fonda's opening of her first role on Broadway. Broadway was a subject to which Pennebaker would repeatedly return over the years, but his next major effort, 1967's Don't Look Back, was an acclaimed account of Bob Dylan's 1965 concert tour of England. The black-and-white documentary gave Dylan fans the first look at their idol since his 1966 motorcycle accident and also devoted plenty of screen time to traveling companions Joan Baez and Alan Price. The same year, Pennebaker collaborated with author Norman Mailer on the first of many projects they would do together, Beyond the Law. Acting as cinematographer for the film -- a rollicking tale of gambling, corruption, and biker bums -- Pennebaker again worked with Mailer in the same capacity on the improvisational Wild 90, also released that year.1967 proved to be an extraordinarily busy year for the filmmaker; in addition to his previously mentioned projects, he found time to direct two other documentaries, Jimi Hendrix: Live in Monterey, 1967 and Otis Redding: Live in Monterey, 1967. The following year, he returned to the festival with Monterey Pop, and then continued documenting some of the era's most influential musicians with 1969's John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band: Live Peace in Toronto, 1969. After another collaboration with Mailer, 1970's Maidstone, Pennebaker returned to the city of Toronto the next year, with Sweet Toronto, a documentary about the 1969 rock festival that featured performers such as John Lennon, David Bowie, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Bowie was the subject of the director's next effort, David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, a filmed account of the performer's 1973 farewell concert that did not see release for another ten years.Following a period of relative inactivity, Pennebaker returned in 1980 with Town Bloody Hall, a documentary about an infamous 1971 roundtable discussion among Mailer, Germaine Greer, Diana Trilling, and assorted feminists that disintegrated into verbal warfare. His next directorial project, the long-delayed Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1983), put him back into more glittery territory with a filmed account of Bowie's 1973 concert at London's Hammersmith Odeon Theatre. It was another seven years before Pennebaker made another documentary; in 1990, he directed Depeche Mode: 101. Two years later, the director attracted widespread acclaim and a 1993 Best Documentary Feature Oscar nomination for The War Room, a behind-the-scenes look at Bill Clinton's bid for the 1992 Pre

Highest Rated Movies



82% Unlocking the Cage Director $27.1K 2016
94% Janis: Little Girl Blue Actor $0.5M 2015
No Score Yet Jane Director 2014
No Score Yet Ricky on Leacock D.A. Pennebaker 2012
73% Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie Executive Producer $29.3K 2010
86% Kings of Pastry Director $0.4M 2010
100% 65 Revisited Director 2007
59% Al Franken: God Spoke Executive Producer 2006
No Score Yet Before the Nickelodeon: The Early Cinema of Edwin S. Porter Actor 2006
No Score Yet David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars - Rock Revie Director 2006
60% Only the Strong Survive Director 2003
No Score Yet See What Happens Actor 2003
No Score Yet Elaine Stritch at Liberty Director 2002
97% Down from the Mountain Director 2001
93% Startup.com Producer $0.6M 2001
100% Town Bloody Hall Director Producer 2001
No Score Yet Cinema Verite: Defining the Moment Actor 1999
No Score Yet Depeche Mode - The Videos 86-98 Director 1998
88% Moon Over Broadway Director 1997
96% The War Room Producer Director 1993
No Score Yet Branford Marsalis: The Music Tells You Director 1992
No Score Yet Jerry Lee Lewis: The Story of Rock 'n' Roll Director 1991
No Score Yet Jimi Plays Monterey Director 1989
No Score Yet Depeche Mode 101 Director 1989
No Score Yet John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band: Sweet Toronto Screenwriter Director 1988
No Score Yet Shake!: Otis at Monterey Director 1987
No Score Yet Dance Black America Director 1985
73% Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars Director 1973
No Score Yet Company Director 1971
No Score Yet One P.M. Producer Director Screenwriter 1969
96% Monterey Pop Director 1968
100% Dont Look Back Director 1967
No Score Yet Bob Dylan World Tours 1966-1974 - Through the Camera of Barry Feinstein Director 1966
No Score Yet Lambert, Hendricks & Co. Director 1964
No Score Yet Primary Director 1960
No Score Yet Baby Director Producer 1954
No Score Yet Daybreak Express Director 1953


No Score Yet POV
Director 2011


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