Born in New York City, Lionel Rogosin, the son of a prominent industrialist, was a chemistry major at Yale and a Navy engineer before becoming the director of several socially conscious documentaries in the mid-'50s. His first, On the Bowery, won an award at the 1956 Venice Film Festival. His next film, a secretly filmed look at South African life, Come Back Africa (1959), earned him international acclaim. Rogosin then became known as the owner of the prestigious Bleecker Street Cinema, a now-defunct art theater in Greenwich Village. He also continued working on the occasional documentary through the early '70s.