Skip to main content

Anne Drew, Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker with Drew Associates, Dies

By Robert Drew

Editor’s Note: Anne Drew, with husband Robert Drew, carried on the pioneering tradition that Robert and his team of cinema vérité legends had begun with the seminal Primary in 1960. Anne joined Drew Associates in 1967 and married Robert in 1970. What follows is an account, by Robert Drew, of Anne’s generous contributions to the documentary form, and of her richly rewarding life.

Anne Drew, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, died April 12 at her home in Sharon, Conn., after a long bout with lung cancer. As a central partner for more than four decades in the documentary film company Drew Associates, Drew edited and produced cinema vérité films on ballet, war, Duke Ellington, Indira Gandhi and President John F. Kennedy, among others. Her work was broadcast on television and celebrated at film festivals worldwide.

Drew was fearless in going after her stories. Filming in mobs in India, or being arrested by Noriega's thugs in Panama, or facing armed militiamen in Montana, she produced films with a human touch that moved and informed.

Anne Drew was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 4, 1941. She grew up in New York, attended Mount Holyoke College, and received her master's degree from New York University's film school. She joined Drew Associates in 1967. The first film she edited was Man Who Dances: Edward Villella (1968), on a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. It won an Emmy Award.

Drew was known for her warm and friendly manner in professional dealings and in "Dialogue," a woman's discussion group, where she was elected president a number of times over the years. In 1970, Anne married Robert Drew.

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

Anne traveled often to India to produce films on two 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 later worked with Robert Drew on editing her India films together with a previous Drew Associates film on Jawaharlal Nehru to make Life and Death of Dynasty (1991), the story of India's Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty. The 90-minute special was broadcast by PBS and the BBC.

Anne edited more than a dozen one-hour broadcast specials, including programs on violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin, jazz great Duke Ellington and President John F. Kennedy. She co-produced prize-winning television specials with Robert Drew, including Marshall High Fights Back (Frontline; 1984), Your Flight is Cancelled (Frontline;1988), and For Auction: An American Hero (1986; 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 World War II, and how his friendship with Ernie Pyle contributed to the development of the groundbreaking documentary style cinema vérité.

The most recent film Anne produced was A President to Remember: In The Company of John F. Kennedy, which broadcast on HBO in January 2012.

Anne moved to Sharon, Conn., in 2006. She loved the ballet, gardening and travel, particularly to Finland, where she had many friends. She is survived by her husband of 42 years, Robert Drew; her brother, Peter Gilbert; her sister, Dorothy Gilbert Goldstone; and her stepchildren, Thatcher Drew, Lisa Drew and Derek Drew.

Films that Anne edited and produced are being preserved by the archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Services will be held in Sharon, Conn. on April 29 and in New York City on May 6.