The Great Wall is True/False’s outdoor movie screen: the massive, Shakespeare’s-facing wall of the Picturehouse Theater (aka the Missouri United Methodist Church). Plan to join us for this free walk-up cinema on Friday and Saturday nights of the festival from 7 – 11pm.
This year, we will be celebrating the life and work of the renegade filmmaker Les Blank who passed away last year.
For more than 50 years Les Blank’s films preserved American subcultures that otherwise might have been forgotten. With a signature idiosyncratic style all his own, Blank captures the essence of a moment and brings it to life. Instead of just being an observer, Blank immersed and interacted, gaining access to previously unwilling characters.
His most well-known film Burden of Dreams is a fantastical look at Werner Herzog’s epic struggle to make his masterpiece Fitzcarraldo in the Amazon. Herzog [on Blank]: “He has his own little universe that he creates with Burden of Dreams…If Burden of Dreams was only the making of Fitzcarraldo it would have been lousy…he was beyond my comprehension. I only knew the man was a very, very good filmmaker.” Blank had a particular knack in establishing a strong sense of place: everything in the frame relates back to the environment in which it occurs.
Blank’s films about American traditions are unequivocally the greatest. Dry Wood (1973, 37 min.) and Hot Pepper (1973, 54 min.) both capture the daily life of French-speaking blacks in southwestern Louisiana’s Cajun country. A Well Spent Life (1972, 44 min.) and The Blues Accordin’ To Lightnin’ Hopkins(1970, 31 min.) are two great ethnomusicological films lit by Blank’s fascination in the cultures, history and music of the now well-known blues musicians Mance Lipscomb and Lightnin’ Hopkins.