Image of Leacock's <i>November Actions</i> Leacock's November Actions
November Actions

To Richard Leacock, a good film involved you and gave you the “feeling of being there.” Achieving that goal required defying the conventions of filmmaking of his time: spontaneous rather than scripted; minimal equipment on-site instead of studio sets and large crews; and, most important, the courage to engage with one’s subjects, to never rehearse, and to accept the inevitable missed shot. His films were strikingly different and caught the attention of MIT’s Provost Jerome Wiesner. In the fall of 1969, Wiesner invited Leacock to join the faculty. Even before Leacock officially took the job, Wiesner had a special request: Would Leacock film the antiwar protest actions that were consuming the MIT campus? The rough-cut film November Actions is deeply moving and perhaps the best film about MIT ever made. Leacock’s longtime MIT colleague Glorianna Davenport is leading the effort to restore this film. The excerpts featured in the exhibition showed four key sequences from the original hour-long production.

November Actions, Film
Film by Richard Leacock; sound by Robert Leacock.
Restoration directed by Glorianna Davenport with assistance by Brian Bradley. 
Transfer by Finish Post

photo: courtesy G. Andrew Boyd

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  • Richard Leacock came to Halifax, Nova Scotia in the early ’80′s to give a talk, hosted by the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative. He introduced many of us to ‘cinema verite’ and showed examples of his own work. One example, a b&w film of a NYC speak-easy with swing dancers moving rapidly to the thumping beat of the music. It was mesmerizing and really made you feel like you were there. I wish I could remember the film title and see it again. Richard radiated creativity and if I could’ve afforded it I would have followed him back to MIT. I will never forget meeting him, he was a remarkable man.

    David Hopper
    31 Oct 11 at 9:03 am