The Blues Accordin' to Les Blank

Thu, Aug 1, 2013
  • 7:30PM
RUN TIME: 85min
STUDENTS/SENIORS:  $9 (29 and under with a valid ID, Mon—Thu)
+  Appearances by Harrod Blank and Mark Toscano
August 2013
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Thursday August 01, 2013
Performances no longer available.
Presented in collaboration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Directed by Les Blank
“In a career spanning forty-plus years of almost continuous work, the filmmaker Les Blank has developed one of the more astonishing bodies of work in American film, most of it completely under-the-radar.”
Idiosyncratic ethnographer of the offbeat and unknown, documentarian Les Blank passed away in April at age 77. In over 40 docu-essays he explored subterranean micro-cultures (Cajuns, gaptoothed women); the outlandish exploits of fellow filmmaker Werner Herzog; food (including a hymn to garlic); and, a subject especially near and dear to him, music and musicians.

We pay tribute to his legacy with a special screening of three of his most beloved blues films, all newly restored.
In collaboration with:
The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins (1968)

RUN TIME: 31min


Lightnin’ Hopkins was a renowned Texas bluesman. With remarkable intimacy, Blank captures his music and musings (“The blues is just a funny feelin’, yet people call it a mighty bad disease”) in this celebration of a legend that doubles as a portrait of the people and culture of Houston, TX—captured vividly at a BBQ and an all-black rodeo.

The Sun’s Gonna Shine (1969)

RUN TIME: 10min


Alan Lomax called Blank’s stunning and elegiac short on Hopkins' reminiscences of his youth “one of the three most important films on the South.”

A Well Spent Life (1971)

RUN TIME: 44min


Texas sharecropper turned blues guitar great Mance Lipscomb recounts his remarkable life story in one of Blank’s most moving documentaries (and Kurt Vonnegut’s favorite movie). Filmed when the legend was well into his 70s (he didn’t release his first album until age 65), A Well Spent Life captures a remarkably sweet soul who was one of the most revered songsters of all time.

Related Content
Special appearances 
Screening will features in person appearances by Harrod Blank (son of Les Blank) and Mark Toscano (preservationist, Academy Film Archive).
Salutes to Les Blank 
Additional Les Blank programs at the Academy Theater at Lighthouse International on July 30 and the Museum of the Moving Image on August 2.