Cover of DVD release
Written byRobert Drew
Produced byRobert Drew
StarringJohn F. Kennedy
Hubert Humphrey
Joseph Julian (narrator)
CinematographyRichard Leacock
D. A. Pennebaker
Terence Macartney-Filgate
Albert Maysles
Edited byRobert Drew
Richard Leacock
D. A. Pennebaker
Terence Macartney-Filgate
Robert Farren
Distributed byTime Life Television[1]
Release date
  • 1960 (1960)
Running time
60 minutes
CountryUnited States

Primary is a 1960 American direct cinema documentary film about the 1960 Democratic Party primary election in Wisconsin between John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey, part of their quest to be chosen as the United States Democratic Party's candidate for President of the United States in the general election.

Produced by Robert Drew and shot by Richard Leacock, D. A. Pennebaker, Terence Macartney-Filgate, and Albert Maysles, the film was a breakthrough in documentary film style. Most importantly, through the use of mobile cameras and lighter sound equipment, the filmmakers were able to follow the candidates as they wound their way through cheering crowds, cram with them into cars and crowded hotel rooms, and hover around their faces as they awaited polling results. This resulted in a greater intimacy than was possible with the older, more classical techniques of documentary filmmaking, and it established what has since become the standard style of video reporting.

In 1990, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The Academy Film Archive preserved Primary in 1998.[2] The film's importance in the evolution of documentary filmmaking was explored in the film Cinéma Vérité: Defining the Moment.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "Primary | Films". Drew Associates. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  2. ^ "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.
  3. ^ Crow, Jonathan (2013). "Cinema Verite: Defining the Moment (1999)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 20 December 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013.