Director who captured the swinging sixties donates varied archive to DMU

Subversive filmmaker Peter Whitehead, who documented London's swinging sixties and helped invent the music video, has donated the 'treasure trove' of his archive to De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

Peter, who worked closely with music legends like The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix, was a key part of the counterculture movement which defined London and New York in the 1960s.

Whitehead Archive launch 21.6.16

His originality caught the attention of Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese, who called Peter "a really special film-maker".

In a prolific career of creativity he has been a filmmaker, artist, novelist, potter, photographer, sculptor and, latterly, a falconer, running a breeding programme in Saudi Arabia founded by King Faisal's son, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal.

This restless creation has left a large amount of collected work and it is this which has been donated to DMU's Cinema and Television History (CATH) research centre, joining collections from horror studio Hammer and comic and singer Norman Wisdom

Rare Dracula script unearthed in DMU's Hammer archive

At a launch event, Peter spoke at length to a captive audience in Clephan building, introducing a rare showing of his 1969 film The Fall, a personal take on the violence and revolution in America in the late sixties.

Professor Steve Chibnall , director of the CATH centre, said Peter was 'the most important documentarian of the sixties on screen'.

He said: "He's the ultimate renaissance man, with so many art forms to his name. What he has given us here at DMU is a treasure trove, filled with plenty of gold.

"I first ran into him in 1998 at a celebration of 30 years since 1968, a really important year in British film. Peter was the guest of honour.

"I worked with him on an article subsequently, researching in his archives and he liked the piece and after that he was thinking about a home for the archived work and, since we already had a few, like Hammer, he agreed we could take care of it here."

The launch event was primarily organised by Dr Alissa Clarke, senior lecturer in Drama at DMU. She will also be co-curating the archive, which includes paintings, pottery, sculptures, posters, films, production files, diaries and novels among other things.

Prof. Chibnall said: "Not many people know the breadth of Peter's work and his thinking. He was a falconer for many years and falconry is a central part of his life and mythical ideas.

"So we have the output here of one of the real creatives of our times and it will be fascinating to go through."


Posted on Friday 24th June 2016

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