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D.A. Pennebaker, documentarian (‘Don’t Look Back’ & more), dies at 94

D.A. Pennebaker with wife and co-director Chris Hegedus (via Pennebaker Hegedus Films Facebook)
D.A. Pennebaker with wife and co-director Chris Hegedus (photo: Pennebaker Hegedus Films)

Filmmaker and master documentarian D.A. Pennebaker died on Thursday (7/31) of natural causes. He was 94. While his film’s subjects were far-reaching, it was his music documentaries with which he first really made a name for himself, starting with the landmark, endlessly influential 1967 film Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back. He also made concert films Monterey Pop, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Depeche Mode: 101, and Down From the Mountain which was about the musicians who performed the songs in the Coen Brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou?, as well as 1970’s Original Cast Album: Company (which got parodied this year on Documentary Now!).

Pennebaker also made 1981’s DeLorean (about the man behind the car now best known from Back to the Future), 1993’s The War Room, which was about Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign, the Emmy-winning 2004 TV documentary Elaine Stritch at Liberty, and 2009’s Kings of Pastry, which were all co-directed made with his wife, Chris Hegedus (who he co-directed films with since 1977).

Rest in peace, D.A. Pennebaker. Film, TV and music videos wouldn’t be the same without you.Your films and influence live on.

You can stream Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back on the Criterion Channel, which has a ton of great extras, too. and rent it via most other streaming services. You can watch Pennebaker talk about the film, and watch clips from a few of his documentaries, below.

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