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D.A. Pennebaker, director of "Monterey Pop" and Dylan doc "Don't Look Back," dead at 94

Written by on August 5, 2019

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iStock/filoD.A. Pennebaker, a documentary director and cinematographer whose best-known films include 1967’s Don’t Look Back and 1968’s Monterey Pop, died Thursday of natural causes at age 94, Variety has confirmed.

Pennebaker, who was presented with an honorary Academy Award in 2013, is considered a pioneer of the genre known as Direct Cinema — an intimate style of documentary film similar to cinéma vérité that uses handheld cameras, synchronous sound and small crews.

Don’t Look Back focused on Bob Dylan‘s 1965 tour of the U.K. and featured the influential folk-rocker candidly interacting with Joan Baez, Donovan and poet Allen Ginsberg. The film begins with the famous visual — set to “Subterranean Homesick Blues” — that shows Dylan flipping through a series of cue cards, each of which displays a song lyric.

Monterey Pop profiles the historic 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, which helped introduce such famous rock acts as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who to a wider audience.

Pennebaker’s other well-known music-related films include 1971’s Sweet Toronto, focusing on John Lennon and The Plastic Ono Band‘s famous 1969 show in Toronto, and the 1973 David Bowie concert flick Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Later in Pennebaker’s career, he began collaborating on films with his third wife, Chris Hegedus. Among these docs was 1993’s The War Room, a behind-the-scenes look at Bill Clinton‘s 1992 presidential campaign, which received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature.

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