Emergency Ward

In 1951, entrepreneurial Look Magazine still photographer, Fons Iannelli, approached Leo Hurwitz with a new idea. Iannelli had developed a prototype of portable, sync-sound filming equipment. Why not try to make documentary films with the same kind of immediacy as the best photojournalism –, real events, real people, and add real sound? He and Hurwitz decided to make a promotional film to interest producers in this new documentary potential.

They filmed in the crucible of an urban emergency room. In doing so, they were probably the first to make real the growing  ambition of a generation of filmmakers to move toward greater and greater immediacy, ultimately creating direct cinema or cinéma vérité. With Emergency Ward in hand, Iannelli approached Robert Saudek, producer of the CBS Omnibus magazine show, who was immediately interested. Saudek agreed to pursue the making of at least one film using the new technique’s potential. In 1953, Hurwitz was firmly blacklisted. Unable to work for any broadcast entity under his own name, he worked for CBS with severe restrictions, using Iannelli as his “front.”

This film was preserved at the George Eastman Museum.

Leo Hurwitz, Fons Iannelli




15 minutes



SeeHide Full Credits

Director, Leo Hurwitz

Camera, Fons Iannelli

Editor, Leo Hurwitz