Acclaimed documentary maker Les Blank dies at 77

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by Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on April 8, 2013 at 8:04 AM

Updated Monday, Apr 8 at 10:05 AM

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Filmmaker Les Blank, whose documentaries on blues musicians and a range of other subjects won acclaim, has died at age 77.

Harrod Blank says his father, whose 42 films earned him a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute, died of cancer Sunday at his home in Berkeley, Calif.

Blank's early films focused on musicians, including 1960s portraits of trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and blues guitarist Lightnin' Hopkins.

He shifted to food with documentaries like 1980's "Garlic is as Good as 10 Mothers" and 2007's "All in This Tea."

But Blank's best-known work was on fellow filmmaker Werner Herzog, including 1982's "Burden of Dreams," where Blank's behind-the-scenes view of the making of Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo" in the Peru became a classic chronicle of artistic obsession.

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