In February 2013, shortly before filmmaker Les Blank’s death, a screening of A POEM IS A NAKED PERSON took place at Pixar Animation Studios in Northern California, with Blank in attendance. Presented here are excerpts from his discussion with the audience of family and friends.

  • Harrod Blank and Leon Russell on A POEM IS A NAKED PERSON, 2015

    Director Les Blank’s son Harrod Blank was instrumental in helping A POEM IS A NAKED PERSON see the light of day, after it had gone largely unseen for decades. In this conversation, Blank sits down with the film’s subject, musician Leon Russell, in Nashville to talk about POEM’s long journey, from...

  • "Lightnin’ Les"

    Lightnin’ Hopkins initially resisted Les Blank’s attempts to film him, but he softened after a long night the two spent playing cards together. This footage shows Hopkins performing a song he wrote in honor of the filmmaker’s futile efforts at the table.

  • Documentaries by Les Blank

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    From garlic to gap-toothed women, no subject was too esoteric to capture the imagination of Les Blank, an uncompromisingly independent spirit who, for nearly fifty years, disappeared with his camera into subcultures rarely seen on-screen. Seemingly off-the-cuff yet poetically constructed, Blank’s...


    Producer and programmer Tom Luddy and chef Alice Waters’s long friendship with director Les Blank began in Berkeley, California, in the late 1960s. Luddy fell in love with Blank’s films then, and Waters hosted Blank regularly at her restaurant. In this 2014 conversation, they discuss Blank’s cont...

  • Burden of Dreams

    Directed by Les Blank • 1982 • United States

    For nearly five years, acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog desperately tried to complete one of the most ambitious and difficult films of his career, FITZCARRALDO, the story of one man’s attempt to build an opera house deep in the Amazon jungle. ...

  • A Poem Is a Naked Person

    Directed by Les Blank • 1974 • United States

    Les Blank considered this free-form feature documentary about beloved singer-songwriter Leon Russell, filmed between 1972 and 1974, to be one of his greatest accomplishments. Yet it has not been released until now. Hired by Russell to film him at his ...

  • Sworn to the Drum: A Tribute to Francisco Aguabella

    Directed by Les Blank • 1995 • United States

    The impassioned rhythms of Francisco Aguabella’s conga propel this portrait of the great Afro-Cuban percussionist.

  • The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists

    Directed by Les Blank • 1994 • United States

    This documentary from Les Blank follows the indomitable Gerald ‘The Maestro’ Gaxiola, who turned to a life of prolific art making after years as an aircraft mechanic, traveling salesman, and body builder. While, in Gaxiola’s words, ‘art is a religion,...

  • Yum, Yum, Yum! A Taste of Cajun and Creole Cooking

    Directed by Les Blank • 1990 • United States

    Exploration of cajun cooking and culture.

  • Gap-Toothed Women

    Directed by Les Blank • 1987 • United States

    Filmmaker Les Blank breezily questions our commonly accepted standards of beauty with this paean to women with extra-wide dental spaces.

  • In Heaven There Is No Beer?

    Directed by Les Blank • 1984 • United States

    The life, culture and food of the polka culture in America today.

  • Sprout Wings and Fly

    Directed by Les Blank • 1983 • United States

    Fiddling legend Tommy Jarrell shares his gifts with a new generation.

  • Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers

    Directed by Les Blank • 1980 • United States

    In this love letter to “the stinking rose,” documentarian Les Blank interviews garlic fanatics of all stripes, from cooks to members of garlic appreciation societies.

  • Always for Pleasure

    Directed by Les Blank • 1978 • United States

    his 1978 documentary is Les Blank’s celebration of the spirit and social traditions of New Orleans, featuring Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations as well as musical performances by Allen Toussaint, Kid Thomas Valentine, Professor Longhair, a...

  • Hot Pepper

    Directed by Les Blank • 1973 • United States

    A companion piece to DRY WOOD that was filmed simultaneously, this is an energetic portrait of the Grammy-winning Creole musician Clifton Chenier, a.k.a. the King of Zydeco. HOT PEPPER brings viewers into the Louisiana juke joints where Chenier plays ...

  • Dry Wood
    Documentaries by Les Blank ...

    Dry Wood

    Documentaries by Les Blank - Documentaries by Les Blank

    Directed by Les Blank • 1973 • United States

    A portrait of black Creole life in the Louisiana Delta.

  • A Well Spent Life

    Directed by Les Blank • 1971 • United States

    A deeply moving tribute to the Texas songster, Mance Lipscomb, considered by many to be the greatest guitarist of all time.

  • Spend It All

    Directed by Les Blank • 1971 • United States

    A look at the vitality of the Cajun lifestyle, paying special attention to the food, music and humor of the culture.

  • The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins

    Directed by Les Blank • 1968 • United States

    Les Blank creates a vivid portrait of bluesman Lightin’ Hopkins through a vital collection of musical performances and oral histories.