By Craig Hubert | The New York Times is reporting that Les Blank, a major figure in the world of documentary film, passed away Sunday at the age of 77 from bladder cancer. Born Leslie Harrod Blank Jr. in 1935, he went to school for English and later “flirted with the idea” of joining the Navy before happening upon a screening of Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal,” the moment Blank claimed he decided he wanted to be a filmmaker. He went on to make short films, long considered classics among film historians, critics, and musicologists, focusing on figures such as the Appalachian fiddler Tommy Jarrell, Dizzy Gillespie, and blues guitarist Lightnin’ Hopkins. Blank’s most famous film is “Burden of Dreams,” a document of Werner Herzog‘s troubled production of “Fitzcarraldo.” Blank received lifetime achievement awards from the American Film Institute and the International Documentary Association. In addition to three children, he is survived by three grandchildren.
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