D. A. Pennebaker

Donn Alan Pennebaker (born July 15, 1925) is an American documentary filmmaker and one of the pioneers of Direct Cinema/Cinéma vérité. Performing arts and politics are his primary subjects. Pennebaker (known as "Penny" to his friends) was born in Evanston, Illinois, the son of Lucille Levick (née Deemer) and John Paul Pennebaker, who was a commercial photographer. Pennebaker served in the Navy and later worked as an engineer, founding Electronics Engineering (the makers of the first computerized airline reservation system) before beginning his film career. After falling under the influence of experimental filmmaker Francis Thompson, Pennebaker directed his first film, Daybreak Express, in 1953. Set to a classic Duke Ellington recording of the same name, the five-minute short of the soon-to-be-demolished Third Avenue elevated subway station in New York City is the earliest known example of Pennebaker's penchant for blending together documentary and experimental filmmaking techniques. In 1959, Pennebaker joined the equipment sharing Filmakers' [sic] Co-op and co-founded Drew Associates with Richard Leacock and former LIFE magazine editor and correspondent Robert Drew.

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