Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Castro film-maker Saul Landau dies

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Saul Landau has died aged 77 (AP/Institute for Policy Studies)

Award-winning documentary film-maker Saul Landau, who profiled political leaders such as Cuba's Fidel Castro and Chile's Salvador Allende, has died at 77.

Colleague John Cavanagh said Laundau died in Alameda, California, after suffering from bladder cancer.

Landau's 1968 documentary Fidel gave US audiences one of their earliest close-ups of the revolutionary leader who installed communism in Cuba.

But his most acclaimed documentary was probably 1979's Paul Jacobs And The Nuclear Gang, which examined the effects of radiation exposure on people living downwind from Nevada's above-ground nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s.

The film received a George Polk Award for investigative reporting and other honours.

Landau was also the author of 14 books. While most covered issues like radical politics, consumer culture and globalization, one of them, "My Dad Was Not Hamlet," was a collection of poetry.

His documentaries tackled a variety of issues, but each contained one underlying theme: reporting on a subject that was otherwise going largely unnoticed at the time, whether it was American ghetto life, the destruction of an indigenous Mexican culture or the inner workings of the CIA.

"We tried to take on themes that nobody else was taking on and that were important," Landau said in July.

Although he made more than three dozen films, Landau, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said he never set out to be a filmmaker. "I didn't set out to be anything," he said in July. "I just fell into it."

A frequent commentator on radio and television in later years, Landau was also a professor emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he taught history and digital media.

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