Since the mid 1960s, director, producer, and cinematographer Les Blank has made films about American idioms. Blank’s first films, produced in the mid-1960s, looked at subjects such as Texas blues singer Lightnin’ Hopkins (The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins) and the advent of the California “flower child” movement (God Respects Us When We Work, but Loves Us When We Dance). From his earliest films to the present, he has largely focused on American-based musicians, artists, filmmakers, and local characters who inspire others through their own creative outlook on life. This retrospective also features new films, including music videos directed by Blank with collaborator Maureen Gosling, and works in progress about Alabama-based sculptor Butch Anthony and legendary direct-cinema filmmaker Ricky Leacock.

Organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator, Department of Film, on the occasion of the 2011 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar: Sonic Truth, in collaboration with Mary Kerr, Flaherty Executive Director; and Dan Streible, founder, Orphan Film Symposium, 2011 Flaherty programmer, and professor at New York University.