Ken Burns

Award Winning Documentarian


Topics

American Legends, Arts/Culture/Music


Full Bio


Ken was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1953. He graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1975 and went on to be one of the co-founders of Florentine Films. He presently resides in Walpole, NH.

Ken Burns has been making documentary films for more than twenty years. In 1981, he produced and directed the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge. He has gone on to make several other award-winning films, including The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God; The Statue of Liberty, also nominated for an Oscar; Huey Long, the story of the turbulent Southern dictator, which enjoyed a rare theatrical release; The Congress: The History and Promise of Representative Government; Thomas Hart Benton, a portrait of the regionalist artist; and Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio. Ken Burns has also produced and directed two films, William Segal and Vezelay, which explore the question of search and individual identity through the work and teachings of philosopher and painter William Segal.

Ken Burns was the director, producer, co-writer, chief cinematographer, music director and executive producer of the landmark television series The Civil War. This film was the highest rated series in the history of American Public Television and attracted an audience of 40 million during its premiere in September 1990. The New York Times called it a masterpiece and said that Ken Burns "takes his place as the most accomplished documentary filmmaker of his generation." Tom Shales of The Washington Post said, "This is not just good television, nor even just great television. This is heroic television." The columnist George Will said, "If better use has ever been made of television, I have not seen it and do not expect to see better until Ken Burns turns his prodigious talents to his next project." The series has been honored with more than forty major film and television awards, including two Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, Producer of the Year Award from the Producer's Guild, People's Choice Award, Peabody Award, duPont-Columbia Award, D.W. Griffiths Award, and the $50,000 Lincoln Prize, among dozens of others.

Ken Burns was the director, producer, co-writer, chief cinematographer, music director and executive producer of the Public Television series Baseball. Four and a half years in the making and eighteen and a half hours in length, this film covered the history of baseball from the 1840's to the present. Through the extensive use of archival photographs and newsreel footage, baseball as a mirror of our larger society was brought to the screen over nine nights during its premiere in September, 1994. It became the most watched series in PBS history, attracting more than 45 million viewers. David Bianculli of the The New York Daily News said, "[Baseball]...resonates like a Mozart symphony." Richard Zoglin of Time Magazine wrote, "Baseball is rich in drama, irresistible as nostalgia, and...an instructive window into our national psychology." Baseball received numerous awards, including an Emmy, the CINE Golden Eagle Award, the Clarion Award, and the Television Critics Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Sports and Special Programming.

His current work is a comprehensive examination of World War II.

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