Produced in 2007 by his daughter Mary Engel, Morris Engel: The Independent is a tribute to the New York City based filmmaker whose debut feature Little Fugitive (1953), created with his wife Ruth Orkin and writer Ray A...展开shley, was acknowledged by director Francois Truffaut as a major inspiration for the French New Wave. Using photographs, film clips, home movies and interviews, Mary Engel provides an overview of her father's life beginning with his childhood in which Tom Mix Westerns led to a lifelong love of the cinema.
Instead of going to college, Engel chose to join The Photo League, a New York City organization (active from 1936 to 1951), which eventually led to a meeting with renowned photographer Paul Strand, who asked Engel to work on his feature film, Native Land (1942). After that, Engel joined the photographic staff of PM (a leftist daily NYC newspaper) and then served in the Navy during WWII in Combat Unit #8 under the direction of Edward Steichen, another influential photographer.
After Engel married photographer Ruth Orkin in 1952, the married couple began to work on movies together starting with Little Fugitive in 1953 which was shot with a hand held 35mm camera (which Engel built) on a budget of $35,000.
Divided into such chapter headings as "Still Photography," "Revisiting Little Fugitive," "Tributes" and other topics, Morris Engel: The Independent includes interviews with NYC gallery owner Howard Greenberg, Richie Andrusco (the child star of Little Fugitive who returns to the original Coney Island locations and recalls his memories of the film), film critic Foster Hirsch, and fellow documentary filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker, Richard Leacock and Albert Maysles.
Producer/Director: Mary Engel
Associate Producer: Brian Shirey
Screenplay: Mary Engel, Joan Goldsmith
Cinematography: Jack Aronson, Grayson Dantzic, Mary Engel
Music: Donna Weng Friedman
Film Editing: Joan Goldsmith, Mary Engel
BW & C-28m.
by Jeff Stafford