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Les Blank Poster

Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 27 November 1935Tampa, Florida, USA
Date of Death 7 April 2013Berkeley, California, USA  (bladder cancer)
Birth NameLeslie Harrod Blank Jr

Mini Bio (1)

Born in 1935 in Tampa, Florida, Les Blank attended Tulane University in New Orleans, where he received a B.A. in English literature and an M.F.A. in theatre. In 1967, after two years in the Ph.D. film program at the University of Southern California, and five years of freelancing in Los Angeles, he began his first independent films, on Texas blues singer Lightnin Hopkins (The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins (1970)) and the newly forming sub-culture, known as flower children, (God Respects Us When We Work, But Loves Us When We Dance (1968)). To finance these and other of his own films, he continued to make industrial and promotional films for such organizations as Holly Farms Poultry, Archway Cookies and the National Wildlife Federation until 1972.

Blank's first independent films began a series of intimate glimpses into the lives and music of passionate people who live at the periphery of American society - a series that grew to include rural Louisiana French musicians and cooks.

Major retrospectives of Les Blank's films have been mounted in Los Angeles at FILMEX in 1977; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 1978 and 1984; New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1979; the National Film Theatre, London in 1982; Cineteca Nacional, Mexico City in 1984; the Cinematheque Francais, Paris in 1986; the Independent Film Week, Augsburg, Germany in 1990 and the Leipzig Film Festival in 1995 and the Sofia Music Film Festival, Bulgaria in 1998. Feature articles on Blank have appeared in American Film, Film Quarterly, Take One, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Image Magazine, Mother Jones, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Premiere, Downbeat and Video Review. In 1984, Blank co-edited the "Burden of Dreams" book, which included journals written during the making of Burden of Dreams by him, sound recordist-editor Maureen Gosling and Werner Herzog, plus an article by legendary journalist Michael Goodwin. In 1986, National Public Radio aired a half-hour special on Les Blank's work and, in 1991, CNN aired a special on him, worldwide.

Among Blank's numerous awards are the British Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary, 1982, (Burden of Dreams (1982)); the Golden Gate Award "Best of Festival", San Francisco Film Festival, 1982 ("Burden of Dreams"); Grand Prize, Melbourne Film Festival, 1985 (In Heaven There Is No Beer? (1984)); Special Jury Award U.S. (Sundance) Film Festival, 1985 ("In Heaven There Is No Beer?"); Grand Award, Houston Film Festival, 1983 ("Burden of Dreams"); Golden Hugo, Chicago Film Festival, 1969 (The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins (1970)). Blank also received a 10,000 Euro prize for "Yum, Yum, Yum" for best film in the International Ethnographic Film Festival, Nuoro, Sardinia, Italy, 2002

In 1990, Les Blank received the American Film Institute's Maya Deren Award for outstanding lifetime achievement as an independent filmmaker. In 1989-1990, Blank was the distinguished filmmaker-in-residence at San Diego State University and, in 1991, adjunct assistant professor in film at the University of California, Berkeley. He was also the Louis B. Mayer filmmaker-in-residence at Dartmouth College and a directing fellow at the Sundance Institute in Utah (both in 1984). His work has been supported by The National Endowment For the Arts, The American Film Institute, The National Endowment For the Humanities, The Ford Foundation, The Guggenheim Foundation, PBS and the BBC. Between 1973 and 1994, Blank toured extensively with the sponsorship of the United States Information Agency, screening his films and discussing them with audiences throughout Latin America, China, England, Spain, Germany, Italy, the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Egypt. Les Blank is a member of: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

Blank currently has four documentaries in production: about David Lee Hoffman, importer of rare and fine teas rom China; Alabama folk artist Butch Anthony; seminal documentary filmmaker Richard Leacock; and a project on the diRosa preserve in Napa, a major collection of Northern California art.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse (3)

Gail Perrin (1960 - ?) (divorced) (2 children)
Chris Simon (? - ?) (divorced)
Mary Jane Ferris (? - ?) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (2)

Father of Harrod Blank
Father of Beau Blank.

Personal Quotes (2)

I get so wrapped up in trying to tell the story as well as I can to get the best possible points of view and show the culture, that I let that be my main force of action, and leave everything else behind. I tend to get over my self-consciousness: I might have a beer or two with people, especially if they're sympathetic.
I try not to make a big deal about the camera, to let it get between me and them. I've seen a lot of cameramen go in and treat the subjects like so many guinea pigs. I think the people pick up on my very protective feelings toward them, and they aren't self-conscious about what they do or say, and they try to show the inner light about themselves that I find so attractive.

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