Artist Development

Les Blank: A Quiet Revelation


Since the early 1960s, Les Blank has documented the lives of people living on the periphery of American society. He made some of the earliest films ever on Cajuns and Texas blues musicians. He is also known for following the unmitigated passions of artists and filmmakers who give their soul to their craft, like filmmaker Werner Herzog and restaurateur Alice Waters. His films are not only documents that serve as a preservation of American subcultures, but a celebration of their food, music and way of being. His intimate, non-didactic style broke new ground in non-fiction film making and, by expanding the notion of what one can make a film about, he inspired generations of filmmakers that followed.

Combining a cinema verité style of Blank's current life with archival footage, still photographs, anecdotes from those who have known him as well as clips and never-before-seen out takes from his films, filmmaker Gina Leibrecht will illustrate the enigmatic and sometimes foibled journey of the artist's life, complete with life changing mistakes and accidental inspirations. As Blank discovered the language of film, he discovered his own deep, inner values and became who he really was: the Les Blank whose religion was the beauty of individual expression and the spiritual liberation found in creativity. This film will reveal the creative force behind this legendary filmmaker and the way in which he uses film not as an end, but a means to express those things which he loves most about the world–all the while preserving this national treasure's legacy for generations to come.

Filmmaker Bio(s)

Gina Leibrecht (director/producer) has been working in film since she received her B.A. in Telecommunications and Film from the University of Oregon in 1989. She currently works and resides in San Francisco, working on documentary, commercial and corporate projects for domestic and international audiences.

Gina is has worked as an editor with director Owsley Brown on Kè Kontan (The Contented Heart), a feature documentary about a music school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and collaborating with Les Blank on How to Smell a Rose: A Visit with Ricky Leacock at his Farm in Normandy. Past documentary highlights include On Wayang: My Life With Shadows, which she coproduced, codirected and edited, and which premiered at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum, and Homegrown Bounty, which she produced and directed for the KQED series SPARK. Gina also edited Frank Green's Counting Sheep, about the endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, which aired on KQED's Truly California series and won a Northern California Emmy Award for Best Documentary in 2006; Karina Epperlein's Phoenix Dance, about a dancer who returns to the stage after losing a leg to cancer, which won San Francisco International Film Festival's Golden Gate Award for Best Documentary Short in 2006 and made the short list of Academy Award Nominations for Best Short Subject Documentary in 2006; Of Wind and Waves: The Life of Woody Brown, about the pioneering big wave surfer Woody Brown, which was nominated for a Northern California Emmy for Best Documentary in 2006; and Kevin White's A Land Between Rivers, a one-hour documentary about the history of California's Central Valley for PBS, which won a CINE Golden Eagle Award for Excellence in Film and Television in 2007. In 1998 she collaborated with the acclaimed documentary filmmaker, Les Blank, on All In This Tea, which she coproduced, codirected and edited, and which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2007, screened in over 40 festivals world wide and was broadcast on the Sundance Channel.

Gina has worked with several Bay Area production companies, editing for corporate and non-profit clients including Intel, Symantec, Sybase, Ebay, Guthy-Renker, Stanford University, the California Water Board, ChildFund International and many others.

Film Details
  • Country(ies): USA
  • Language(s): English
  • Director(s): Gina Leibrecht
  • Producer(s): Gina Leibrecht
  • Cinematographer(s): Gina Leibrecht, Harrod Blank
  • Editor(s): Gina Leibrecht
  • With: Les Blank
  • Website:

FSP 1278