7 April 2013 1:05 PM, PDT | Thompson on Hollywood | See recent Thompson on Hollywood news »

The great documentary filmmaker Les Blank, who no doubt visited many of your theaters to show films and waft garlic through the air, passed away peacefully Sunday morning after a battle with cancer that didn't keep him from holding on. (Here's the New York Times obit.) See film clips below. The city of Berkeley recently honored Les and he showed up to meet with his fans. He and Roger Ebert were friends and had a mutual admiration society. Les Blank is a renowned independent filmmaker, whose poetic work offers intimate, idiosyncratic glimpses into the lives, culture, and music of passionate people at the periphery of American society. Topics have included Cajun, Mexican, Polish, Hawaiian, and Serbian-American music and food traditions, Afro-Cuban drummers, Texas bluesmen, Appalachian fiddlers, flower children, garlic, and gap-toothed women. Blank is perhaps best known for his feature-length “Burden of Dreams” (1982), documenting the chaotic production of Werner Herzog’s 1982 film. »

- Gary Meyer

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