Herb Di Gioia and David Hancock met as students at UCLA in the late 1960s and their filmmaking was influenced by the Ethnographic Film Program founded by Colin Young at UCLA in 1966. Key figures in the tradition of observational cinema, in the early 1970s Di Gioia and Hancock completed a series of films that charts the genre in its making. This series, Vermont People, documents five human subjects living in rural Vermont, exploring aspects of white, working class, rural America. Four films in this series were completed before Hancock died at the age of 30: Duwayne Masure (1971), Chester Grimes (1972), Peter Murray (1975), and Peter and Jane Flint (1975). The pair also made a fifth film together, Naim and Jabar (1974), shot in Afghanistan at the behest of producer Norman Miller, with funding from the National Science Foundation.
Following Hancock’s untimely death, Di Gioia channeled most of his energies into teaching. He was a central figure in Britain’s National Film and Television School, training anthropologists in filmmaking techniques and fostering ethnographic sensibilities among filmmaking students — most notably Molly Dineen. – Wen Zhuang, Amy Sloper
About the collection
The Herbert Di Gioia and David Hancock Vermont People Collection was donated to the HFA in 2019 by Herbert Di Gioia. It contains negatives, outtakes, and prints for the films of the Vermont People series, including Duwayne Masure (1971), Chester Grimes (1972), Peter Murray (1975), and Peter and Jane Flint (1975).
The collection is currently unprocessed and an inventory can be provided by request, please contact the collections staff for details. Advanced notice is required for research use.
The HFA does not manage the copyright to this collection. Inquiries regarding rights and re-use should be directed to Di Gioia and his family.
A related collection of film material containing the film elements for Naim and Jabar (1974) as part of Norman Miller’s Faces of Change series exists at the Human Studies Film Archives at the Smithsonian. Contact HSFA reference staff for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org, 301-238-2875.
See also: Grimshaw, Anna. Herb Di Gioia and David Hancock: A Case Study in Early Observational Cinema. Visual Anthropology Review, Vol. 22, Issue 1, pp. 34-45.