Robert L. Drew, an award-winning director and pioneer of the cinema verite genre, died this week at age 90. The celebrated filmmaker had more than 100 films on culture, politics and social issues in his catalogue, spanning over five decades. His family announced that he had died on Wednesday, via Reuters. Drew’s health had been deteriorating for some time.

"He had been declining for some time and it was not completely unexpected," his son, Thatcher Drew, said.

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The filmmaker’s vast and varied life experiences informed his creative process. Before going into cinema, he worked as a fighter pilot in WWI, and as an editor and correspondent for Life Magazine. Later on, he went on to develop the “fly on the wall“ style of documentary.

He also founded the documentary film company Drew Associates in the early 1960s. Many of his films were shown on television and screened at international film festivals.

"He believed in the pure form of cinema vérité. It was a strict code that allowed no directing of subjects, no set up shots and no on-camera narrator or correspondent," his son explained.

His best known films include Faces of November – a short film about Kennedy’s funeral after his assassination and The Chair, which told the story of a criminal finding redemption.