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Filmmaker, cinema verite pioneer Richard Leacock dies at 89

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Richard Leacock
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Richard Leacock (pictured, center), a cinema vérité documentary filmmaker best known for his film Primary, which followed John F. Kennedy during his presidential campaign, has died.

Leacock, who also produced The Flesh (1962) and 1 P.M. (1972), was known for his unobtrusive, candid film style and is often said to have inspired the first wave of reality television programs. The 89-year-old died Wednesday in Paris, according to the Associated Press.

“Richard Leacock was one of the true pioneers of documentary filmmaking,” said director Martin Scorsese in a statement. “His work spanned a vast array of subjects, styles and approaches to the form, and he was involved in some of the finest and most important documentaries in the history of cinema, from Robert Flaherty’s Louisiana Story to Primary and The Chair to Monterey Pop. He was instrumental in the development and use of lightweight, portable equipment, which opened the way for genuinely independent filmmaking. And he had a remarkably sensitive, quick camera eye. He paved the way for all of us.”

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