RIP: Les Blank, filmmaker best known for his intimate documentations of musicians

RIP: Les Blank, filmmaker best known for his intimate documentations of musicians

From The New York Times:

Les Blank, whose sly, sensuous and lyrical documentaries about regional music and a host of other idiosyncratic subjects, including Mardi Gras, gaptoothed women, garlic and the filmmaker Werner Herzog, were widely admired by critics and other filmmakers if not widely known by moviegoers, died on Sunday at his home in Berkeley, Calif. He was 77.

The cause was bladder cancer, said his son Harrod.

Mr. Blank, who received lifetime achievement awards from the American Film Institute and the International Documentary Association, did not think of himself as a documentarian, his former wife Chris Simon said, but rather as a filmmaker whose work happened to be about real people.

And his films are hardly standard documentary fare, dominated by archival footage and interviews with talking heads; nor are they of the Frederick Wiseman-D. A. Pennebaker fly-on-the-wall exposé school. Rather, the films, most of them less than an hour long, are “brilliantly sympathetic, well-crafted essays,” as John Rockwell wrote in The New York Times in 1979, rife with deftly framed portraiture, cunningly observed social scenes, beautiful nature photography and the poetic juxtaposition of imagery and sound. […]

• Les Blank: http://www.lesblank.com

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