Always for Pleasure: The Films of Les Blank

7/8/12 to 8/30/12

Join us for a celebration of the rich body of work of local documentary filmmaker Les Blank, whose films take us on a journey through the back roads and main streets of American regional culture. Music, food and dancing are central to Blank's films, as are the poetry and passion of the people who keep these traditions alive. Blank's beautiful, roaming camerawork will be the subject of a Behind the Scenes lecture on Saturday, August 25. Plan for a summer of pleasure, as special culinary events will accompany some of these feasts for the eyes and ears.

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Past Films

  • Burden of Dreams

    • Thursday, August 30 7 pm

    Les Blank with Maureen Gosling (U.S., 1982). Archival Print! Maureen Gosling in person. One of the more unusual films about filmmaking, Burden of Dreams documents Werner Herzog's obsessive four-year struggle to complete his 1982 film, Fitzcarraldo. Named by Derek Malcolm (The Guardian) as one of the best one hundred films of the twentieth century. (94 mins)

  • Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers

    • Sunday, August 26 7 pm

    Les Blank (U.S., 1980) Les Blank in person. Les Blank's paean to the history of the stinking rose features a host of garlic lovers who praise its culinary as well as healing attributes. Preceded by two other culinary creations, Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (archival print!) and Spend It All. (118 mins)

  • Behind the Scenes: Les Blank on Documentary Cinematography

    • Saturday, August 25 5 pm

    In this special lecture, Les Blank traces the evolution of his documentary filming style from his early works to the present, while screening two films from the late 1960s, God Respects Us When We Work, But Loves Us When We Dance and Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins. Followed by Hot Pepper, a thrilling musical portrait of Zydeco King Clifton Chenier. (c. 150 mins)

  • Special Screening

    • Sunday, August 19 7 pm

    Les Blank (U.S., 1974). Les Blank in person. A rare chance to see a film on a major rock star of the 1970s-we can't tell you who-described by the Washington Post as “the best film ever made on rock.” Preceded by Cigarette Blues, featuring Oakland bluesman Sonny Rhodes. (96 mins)

  • The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists

    • Sunday, August 12 7 pm

    Les Blank with Maureen Gosling, Chris Simon (U.S., 1994). Les Blank in person. Join us for three films that celebrate individuality and creativity: The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists, a portrait of local artist Gerald Gaxiola; Julie: Old Time Tales of the Blue Ridge; and Gap-Toothed Women, which addresses issues of beauty, womanhood, and personal fulfillment. (96 mins)

  • A Well Spent Life

    • Sunday, August 5 7 pm

    Les Blank with Skip Gerson (U.S., 1971). Les Blank in person. Discover the distinct musical styles and authentic modes of living of three musical greats: Texas bluesman Mance Lipscomb in A Well Spent Life; Dizzy Gillespie; and bluegrass fiddler Tommy Jarrell in Sprout Wings and Fly. (96 mins)

  • ry cooder group '88 in santa cruz

    • Sunday, July 29 7 pm

    Les Blank (U.S., 1988). Les Blank in person. Slide-guitar great and world music alchemist Ry Cooder and a handpicked orchestra of virtuoso musicians play The Catalyst in Santa Cruz. Preceded by Sword to the Drum, a tribute to Afro-Cuban drummer Francisco Aguabella. (120 mins)

  • All in This Tea

    • Sunday, July 22 5 pm

    Les Blank, Gina Leibrecht (U.S., 2006). Les Blank in person. Follow tea importer David Lee Hoffman as he travels through China in search of handcrafted premium teas. “An entertaining portrait of an eccentric figure whose singular passion proves infectious" (Hollywood Reporter). Followed by a special tea tasting with Hoffman. (70 mins)

  • In Heaven There Is No Beer?

    • Sunday, July 15 7 pm

    Les Blank with Maureen Gosling (U.S., 1984). Les Blank in person. A joyful glimpse of Polish American music, dancing and food. Followed by Chulas Fronteras, featuring Flaco Jiménez and other Norteño musicians on both sides of the border. (108 mins)

  • Special Culinary Event @ Babette

    • Sunday, July 8 5 pm

    Les Blank in person. A special dinner before the screening of Always for Pleasure, featuring red beans 'n rice and other Creole dishes. Tickets ($25/each) are limited.

  • Always for Pleasure

    • Sunday, July 8 7 pm

    Les Blank (U.S., 1978). Archival Print! Les Blank in person. Immerse yourself in the festivities of our most festive city, New Orleans. Preceded by Blank's first film, a short homage to The Seventh Seal, and Dry Wood, an intimate portrait of Creole life. Join us for a Creole dinner at Babette before the show (ticketed separately). (99 mins)