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Les Blank

Les Blank

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: November 27, 1935 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Tampa, Florida, USA Profession: documentarian, producer, film instructor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Highly acclaimed, maverick auteur of off-beat documentaries ranging from "Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers" (1980, a cultural-folk history of the magic herb), to "In Heaven There Is no Beer?" (1984, on Polish polka dancing), to "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe" (1980, the result of the eponymous German director's losing a bet with his former assistant, Errol Morris). Blank's best known work is the feature-length "Burden of Dreams" (1982), an extraordinary account of the production of Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo" (1982). His career has been the subject of major retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1979), the National Film Theatre in London (1982) and the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris (1986). In 1990 the American Film Institute honored Blank with the Maya Deren award for outstanding lifetime achievement by an independent filmmaker. Combining obsessions with music and food, Blank gives his movies a taste and feel that few commercial filmmakers can match. He's not above cooking up a mess of red beans and rice behind the screen to enhance the experience. He reminds us that movies can be used to celebrate life.

Highly acclaimed, maverick auteur of off-beat documentaries ranging from "Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers" (1980, a cultural-folk history of the magic herb), to "In Heaven There Is no Beer?" (1984, on Polish polka dancing), to "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe" (1980, the result of the eponymous German director's losing a bet with his former assistant, Errol Morris).

Blank's best known work is the feature-length "Burden of Dreams" (1982), an extraordinary account of the production of Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo" (1982). His career has been the subject of major retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1979), the National Film Theatre in London (1982) and the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris (1986). In 1990 the American Film Institute honored Blank with the Maya Deren award for outstanding lifetime achievement by an independent filmmaker.

Combining obsessions with music and food, Blank gives his movies a taste and feel that few commercial filmmakers can match. He's not above cooking up a mess of red beans and rice behind the screen to enhance the experience. He reminds us that movies can be used to celebrate life.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
5.
  Innocents Abroad (1992) Director
7.
  Marc and Ann (1991) Director
9.
  J'ai ete au bal (1989) Director
10.
  Gap-Toothed Women (1987) Director

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1962:
Made industrials for Holly Farms Poultry, Archway Cookies, National Wildlife Federation, educational films and TV films
1964:
Made first film, "Dizzy Gillespie" (for TV)
1967:
First independently produced film, "God Respects Us When We Work but Loves Us When We Dance" (20 mins; on first Los Angeles "love-in")
1967:
Founded Flower Films
1974:
First feature-length film, "A Poem is a Naked Person" (72 mins; unreleased; on country-rock performer Leon Russell)
1976:
Received Guggenheim Fellowship
1979:
Subject of retrospective at Museum of Modern Art, New York
1982:
Subject of retrospective at National Film Theatre, London
1984:
Subject of retrospective at Cineteca Nacional, Mexico City
1984:
Louis B Mayer filmmaker-in-residence, Dartmouth; directing fellow, Sundance Institute
1986:
Subject of retrospective at Cinematheque-Francaise, Paris
:
Outstanding filmmaker-in-residence, San Diego State University
1990:
Subject of retrospective at Independent Film Week, Augsberg, West Germany
1991:
Began teaching film at University of California, Berkeley
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Tulane University: New Orleans , Louisiana -
Tulane University: New Orleans , Louisiana -
Phillips Andover Academy: Andover , Massachusetts - 1950 - 1954
University of Southern California: Los Angeles , California - 1960 - 1962

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Gail Blank. Erotic ceramics maker. Divorced c. 1971; born c. 1941.

Family close complete family listing

son:
Harrod Blank. Filmmaker. Born c. 1965; directed the documentary "Wild Wheels".

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