The documentary community is mourning last week’s loss of exceptional filmmaker and esteemed colleague, Danny Anker. Senior Producer and head of production at ITVS Richard O’Connell pays tribute.
The passing of Danny Anker on Monday, April 21st is a huge loss for all of us who care about the art and craft of documentary film. Danny is best known for his narrative documentaries, Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust and his Oscar-nominated film, Scottsboro: An American Tragedy, which was broadcast on PBS.
I was lucky enough to work with Danny when he was making his film Music From the Inside Out, a film that remains one of my personal favorites. It has all the elements we have come to expect of documentary filmmaking at its very best: original, captivating, artistic, heartfelt, and of course, enlightening. Music From the Inside Out would go on to be presented on Independent Lens and be seen widely across the world in festivals and with a limited theatrical release – a huge success by anyone’s standards.
Danny strongly believed that public television was the best home for Music from the Inside Out. Much like the way he explored music in the documentary, Danny wanted the film to be accessible to everyone. His meticulous and exacting approach in all aspects of filmmaking was evident in the impeccable production values of the film, particularly the knock-out recordings of the music. It was also a joy to witness his beautifully crafted insights into both the creative process and his belief as to why music is so important to our lives.
The film was a testament to Danny’s creativity and the originality of his approach, which is one of the reasons why this film is the one I most often want to share, even with my own children. Working with Danny was a pleasure and while I am not saying it was always easy, Danny’s tenacity and passion for his work exemplified the nature of what it takes to be successful in this field. He was a true independent producer, a model professional, and like all great documentary filmmakers, his dedication and passion to the project never wavered – despite the film taking more than six years to complete. ITVS is very proud to have worked alongside Danny and consider it a privilege to have shared his work with the public television audience.