Les Blank, Filmmaker Who Captured Life and Its Eccentricities, Dies at 77 (NY Times)

Documentary filmmaker Les Blank—the director of “Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe” (1979) and other “sly, sensuous and lyrical documentaries about regional music and other idiosyncratic subjects”—died today at the age of 77.

From the New York Times’ obituary by Bruce Weber: “A shy man with a quiet demeanor, Mr. Blank achieved a kind of intimacy in his work — his subjects often seem almost impossibly at ease — that suggested the camera had been an unobtrusive fly on the wall, or perhaps a welcome guest. Mr. Blank sometimes lived among the people he was filming for weeks at a time.

“I try not to make a big deal about the camera, to let it get between me and them,” Mr. Blank said in 1979. “I’ve seen a lot of cameramen go in and treat the subjects like so many guinea pigs. I think the people pick up on my very protective feelings toward them, and they aren’t self-conscious about what they do or say, and they try to show the inner light about themselves that I find so attractive.”

Above: Les Blank, mid-1980s, via the New York Times. Photo: Chris Simon.