Apr 08, 2013

By Scott Walker

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An acclaimed doccumentary filmmaker has died.

Les Blank won acclaim for his films on blues musicians and a range of other subjects.

Blank’s 42 films earned him a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute. He died of cancer yesterday.

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 such as 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 Peru became a classic chronicle of artistic obsession.

Les Blank was 77.

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