American documentary filmmaker Saul Landau dead at age 77

LOS ANGELES Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:30am IST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Saul Landau, an American documentary filmmaker best known for his expose on atomic bomb testing and films on Cuba, has died from cancer, the Institute for Policy Studies, where Landau was a fellow, said on Tuesday. He was 77.

The Washington-based think tank said Landau died at his home on Monday.

Known as a champion of progressive and left-wing causes, Landau won the George Polk Award for Investigative Reporting and an Emmy with co-director Jack Willis for the 1980 film "Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang," about the health effects of 1950s U.S. atomic bomb testing in Nevada and a government cover-up.

Landau made more than 40 films throughout his career, many of which focused on Latin America, specifically Cuba and Argentina.

He made six films about Cuba, most notably the 1968 PBS documentary "Fidel" in which Landau accompanied Cuban leader Fidel Castro on a week-long jeep tour of the country.

He also directed two films released in 1971 about socialist Chilean President Salvador Allende, two years before he was ousted by military junta leader Augusto Pinochet.

Novelist Gore Vidal once quipped that the prolific Landau "is a man I love to steal ideas from."

Landau, who was a critic of consumer culture and globalization, was working on a film about homophobia in Cuba at the time of his death, the think tank said.

The filmmaker, who also taught at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, University of California-Santa Cruz and American University, has written 14 books and was a frequent contributor to newspapers and the Huffington Post website.

He is survived by his wife, Rebecca Switzer, and five children.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Eric Walsh)

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