Les Blank Filmmaker

“Les is the one who has found truth, and in every single film he has made.”
– Werner Herzog

Les at work

Les Blank

“I can’t believe that anyone interested in movies or America…could watch Blank’s work without feeling they’d been granted a casual, soft-spoken revelation.”
– Jay Cocks, Time magazine critic

If you love film, revel in Americana music, crave slow food, or delight in the creative process, there is nothing like an evening with Les Blank, showing a few of his 41 highly awarded films and talking about his adventures making them. Whether his subjects are celebrities like Werner Herzog, Alice Waters, or Professor Longhair, or obscure Zydeco musicians, sausage makers, or share croppers, the common thread that runs through Les’s films is passion.

Blank began his career filming in communities of color in the violence-wracked South of the 1960’s, which demanded considerable personal courage as well as talent. At a time when the nation was struggling with intolerance, his films took us beyond mere tolerance to an exuberant appreciation of our then-marginalized vernacular cultures.

“One of our most original filmmakers…A master of movies about the American idiom.”
– Vincent Canby, New York Times

“…a quintessentially American filmmaker…drawn to the rituals of daily life – the meals, music and festivals that bind individuals together into communities.”
– Annette Insdorf, Columbia University

“His movies are both playful and serious, all while maintaining a sense of wonder about their weird subjects.”
– The Onion AV Club

Selected Films:

  • Burden of Dreams (Werner Herzog’s struggles making Fitzcaraldo with Mick Jagger and Klaus Kinsky)
  • Always for Pleasure (music, food and excess in New Orleans)
  • Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers (Gilroy, Alice Waters, and the birth of the slow food movement)
  • Gap-Toothed Women (Lauren Hutton, superstition and self esteem)
  • The Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins (the hugely influential Texas bluesman)
  • Chulas Fronteras (Tex Mex border culture with Flaco Jimenez and Lydia Mendoza)
  • Hot Pepper (Clifton Chenier, the king of Zydeco music)
  • Spend It All (Cajun culture featuring Dewey Balfa and Marc Savoy)
  • Sprout Wings and Fly (seminal North Carolina Fiddler, Tommy Jarrell)
  • A Well Spent Life (Texas songster Mance Lipscomb)

“America’s master of cinematic cultural anthropology.”
– Entertainment Weekly

“Les Blank Is As Good As Ten Directors”– James Bogan, Professor of Art and Film at the University of Missouri-Rolla.