Speaking to the World
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Ken Burns has been making documentary films for over forty years. Since the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Ken has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War; Baseball; Jazz; The War; The National Parks: America’s Best Idea; The Roosevelts: An Intimate History; Jackie Robinson; The Vietnam War; and Country Music. Read More >
A December 2002 poll conducted by Real Screen magazine listed The Civil War as second only to Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North as the “most influential documentary of all time,” and named Ken Burns and Robert Flaherty as the “most influential documentary makers” of all time. In March 2009, David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun said, “…Burns is not only the greatest documentarian of the day, but also the most influential filmmaker period. That includes feature filmmakers like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. I say that because Burns not only turned millions of persons onto history with his films, he showed us a new way of looking at our collective past and ourselves.” The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of his films, "More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source." And Wynton Marsalis has called Ken “a master of timing, and of knowing the sweet spot of a story, of how to ask questions to get to the basic human feeling and to draw out the true spirit of a given subject.”
Future film projects include The U.S. and the Holocaust, The American Buffalo, Leonardo da Vinci, The American Revolution, Emancipation to Exodus, and LBJ & the Great Society, among others.
Ken’s films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including sixteen Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards and two Oscar nominations; and in September of 2008, at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards, Ken was honored by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Read Less ^
Interview with Bill Maher
This powerful, moving speech digs deep into the history and meaning of country music. It’s all here: its greatest stars and the words and music that touch on universal human experiences. (Clip(s) optional.)
Burns tries to make sense of the most important and most consequential event in American History since World War II. Here competing viewpoints and perspectives are balanced to give us a chance to finally come to terms with this important conflict. (Clip(s) optional.)
A detailed and intimate look at three hugely influential, but deeply flawed and wounded people, who are Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt—their lives, but also their times. (Clip(s) optional.)
Burns discusses the great gift of our national parks. Here both “the immensity and the intimacy of time” merge, as we appreciate what the parks have added to our collective and individual spirit. (Begins with 13-minute clip - intro to the film.)
Ken Burns reminds the audience of the timeless lessons of history, and the enduring greatness and importance of the United States in the course of human events. Incorporating The Civil War, Baseball and Jazz, Burns engages and celebrates what we share in common. (No clip.)
Drawing on some of Lincoln's most stirring words as inspiration, this speech engages the paradox of war by following the powerful themes in two of Ken Burns's best known works-- The Civil War, his epic retelling of the most important event in American history, and The War, his intensely moving story of WWII told through the experiences of so-called ordinary people from four geographically distributed American towns. (Begins with Norah Jones 5-minute American Anthem montage clip from the film.)
The Civil War continues to be the most important event in American history. In this eloquent address, Burns paints both an intimate and bird’s-eye view of the searing events of the years 1861 through 1865 and the war’s profound relevance to us today. (Clip optional: 12:35 TRT intro to the film if requested.)
This combines the biographies of some of Ken’s most fascinating subjects, including Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Frank Lloyd Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and Mark Twain. He shares how biography works, and gives insight into the storytelling process. (No clip(s).)
This is a less formal, Inside-the-Actors-Studio type of event. Ken responds to questions from moderator on all his films (or film-specific) and issues in history and contemporary American culture. Audience Q&A to conclude if requested.
"You won't be surprised to hear that Ken was amazing last night. He was mesmerizing (as I've heard about him) and fit in perfectly with our program, the occasion of which was to award our 3rd annual Hiett Prize in the Humanities to a young person."
"His clips of The War were stunning. In addition, he's so personable, generous, and genuine. He's obviously devoted to his work and passionate about sharing it with everyone. I don't know how we'll top, or equal, him next year. We got nothing but compliments from the 400 in the audience, who left feeling that they had experienced something significant (which was true). Once again, thanks for helping us 'hit a home run,' as one of our donors said last night. I look forward to more."
"It was a great event. Ken goes above and beyond on all accounts. He put the film together in segments that allowed him to introduce each segment in context. The Q&A portion was well done. I’d like to find a time to bring Ken back to Dallas!"
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