Documaker Anne Drew dies at 70

Had multidecade partnership with husband Robert L. Drew

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Anne Drew, the wife of cinema verite pioneer Robert L. Drew, died April 12 at their home in Sharon, Conn., after a long bout with lung cancer. She was 70.

Anne Drew was a central partner for more than four decades in the documentary film company Drew Associates, founded by Robert Drew in the early 1960s. There she edited and produced cinema verite films on ballet, war, Duke Ellington, Indira Gandhi and President John F. Kennedy, among other subjects. Her work screened on television and worldwide at film festivals.

Anne Eileen Gilbert joined Drew Associates in 1967 (the two were married in 1970). The first film she edited was “Man Who Dances: Edward Villella” (1968). The documentary on a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet won an Emmy Award.

Anne Drew’s “Kathy’s Dance” (1977), about dancer Kathy Posin, won the New York Film Festival Blue Ribbon.

She traveled to India a number of times to produce films on two of the country’s prime ministers, Indira Gandhi and her son, Rajiv Gandhi. “Herself, Indira Gandhi” (1982) won the Global Village Festival first prize and a Cine Golden Eagle.

Anne and Robert Drew later worked to edit her India films together with a previous Drew Associates film on Jawaharlal Nehru to make “Life and Death of Dynasty” (1991). The 90-minute story of India’s Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty aired on PBS and the BBC.

Anne edited more than a dozen one-hour broadcast specials, including programs on violinist-conductor Yehudi Menuhin, jazz great Ellington and President Kennedy. Anne and Robert co-produced television specials including “Marshall High Fights Back” (“Frontline,” 1984), “Your Flight Is Cancelled” (“Frontline,” 1988) and “For Auction: An American Hero” (1986), the last winning the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for best documentary.

Anne also produced “From Two Men and a War” (2005), an account of Robert Drew’s experiences as a fighter pilot in WWII and of his friendship with Ernie Pyle, which contributed to the development of the groundbreaking cinema verite documentary style.

Anne most recently produced “A President to Remember: In The Company of John F. Kennedy,” which HBO aired in January.

Anne was born in Brooklyn, grew up in New York, attended Mount Holyoke College, and received her master’s degree from NYU’s film school.

The archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is preserving a number of films edited and produced by Anne Drew.

In addition to husband Robert, she is survived by a brother and a sister and three stepchildren.

Services will be held in Sharon, Conn., on April 29 and in New York City on May 6. Latter will run 4-7 p.m. at the Harvard Club, Biddle Rooms, 27 West 44th St.

Donations may be made to the Anne Drew Film Preservation Fund.

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