When I began filming this intimate portrait with Ricky Leacock (1921-2011), I had no notion that our cinematic conversation would continue over the next 40 years.
During a period of almost four decades, we observe Ricky at home, at work and on the road -- with family, friends, colleagues, students, and contemporaries . Shooting with ever-changing small-formats - Super 8 film to video to HD - these encounters provide the wealth of material that has become the backbone of two films and an upcoming book about the beginnings of what is known as Cinema Verite or Direct Cinema.
Allowing him to tell his own story in his own words, my documentary pays homage to Richard Leacock’s seminal influence in aesthetic development and technological evolution during his 75-year moviemaking career.
In 1972, we began this journey in the Canary Islands. It is here that, at the age of 13, Ricky shot his first film about his father’s banana plantation.
Upon seeing CANARY ISLAND BANANAS, his future mentor Robert Flaherty declared that someday they’d work together and, a decade later, they did.
LOUISIANA STORY (1946) is a fiction film but Leacock morphed Flaherty’s philosophy of shooting ‘what is there; not what was supposed to be there’ into his own particular approach.
Then, working with Robert Drew and D.A. Pennebaker in the early ‘60s – they develop a technical advancement that would forever change modern filmmaking – a truly portable 16mm synch-sound equipment.
In Paris in 1973, Ricky and I visit Henri Langlois at the Cinémathèque Française where Leacock demonstrates his first foray into an even smaller film format – the Super 8-Sync-Sound-System – to Chris Marker and other young film aficionados.
Back at M.I.T. with Ed Pincus, Ricky agonizes about how to best document the first outbreak of Bird Flu.
When journalist Noel E. Parmentel, Jr. stops by for dinner and they reminiscence about rollicking filmmaking adventures during the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Twenty years later, I catch up with Leacock, Valérie Lalonde and Jonas Mekas at the Rotterdam Film Festival where they’re screening their latest works - Jonas' experimental film and Ricky experimenting with small-format video.
Later on in Paris, during a quiet evening at home, Ricky tests out his new digital camera with close friend, Jean Rouch.
The last time Ricky used a camera he filmed Valérie in 2008 at the Cinema Verite Film Festival in Iran – which he shot especially for this film.
RICKY on LEACOCK invites you to discover the man who inspired and mentored me and many others; to reexamine his numerous contributions to the art of cinema; and to understand the motivation and intent behind his lifelong quest to ‘capture the feeling of being there.’
-- Jane Weiner, Paris, France