A LIFE WELL SPENT: 16MM FILMS OF LES BLANK
March 27 only
“Les Blank (1935-2013) was an internationally renowned, independent filmmaker, whose poetic work offers intimate, idiosyncratic glimpses into the lives, culture, and music of the passionate people at the periphery of American society. His film topics have included Cajun, Mexican, Polish, Hawaiian, and Serbian-American music and food traditions, Afro-Cuban drummers, Texas blues men, Appalachian fiddlers, “flower children”, gap-toothed women, and the garlic plant.”
Blank is perhaps best known for his feature-length Burden of Dreams (1982), documenting the chaotic production of fellow director, and friend, Werner Herzog’s 1982 film “Fitzcarraldo” in the jungles of South America. Honored with a Criterion DVD edition, and a British Academy Award, Roger Ebert called Burden of Dreams, “…one of the most remarkable documentaries ever made about the making of a movie.”
In this program we will be screening 3 films from Les’ extensive collection, projected in its original format, 16mm.
SPROUT WINGS AND FLY, 1983 (31MIN) 16mm, color, sound
“Eat when I’m hungry,
Drink when I’m dry,
If I get to feelin’ much better
I’m gonna sprout wings and fly”
Les Blank’s down-home portrayal of Tommy Jarrell, a well known simple-talking musician who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Jarell colors the neighborhood with his old-timey Appalachian tunes, playing for young and old throughout the community. When he’s not pluckin’ the “Devil’s instrument” – his rosin coated fiddle – he’s getting drunk on moonshine, playing poker, going to church or staying out at dances till dawn.
GAP-TOOTHED WOMEN, 1987 (31MIN) 16mm, color, sound
In some countries it’s a symbol of luck, in others a symbol of beauty, and even promiscuity. The official term is Diastima and it’s a dentist’s worse nightmare. A heart-warming celebration of cartoonists, musicians, truck drivers, belly dancers, a supreme court justice, and even a model all born with the genetic gift of being a gap-toothed woman.
SPEND IT ALL, 1972 (41MIN) 16mm, color, sound
A feel good document of the Cajun people of Southwest Louisiana in the 1970s. A simpler, pastoral way of life filled with boating, horse racing, drinking whisky, curing tobacco, backyard cookouts, and dancing all night to zydeco tunes at the country ballroom. They work like hell to make “the mighty green dollar” then spend it all the next day.
Curated by Linda Scobie.
A LIFE WELL SPENT: 16MM FILMS OF LES BLANK: Upcoming Showtimes