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Ken Burns

Documentary Filmmaker


Named "the most accomplished documentary filmmaker of his generation" by The New York Times, Ken Burns has captured the imaginations of television viewers in unprecedented fashion, setting rating records and winning dozens of awards.

His first major film, The Civil War, attracted an audience of 40 million during its premiere and was honored with more than 40 major film and television awards including two Emmys. His series, Baseball, became the most watched series in public television history.

Burns’s other notable films include Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, Shakers: Hand to Work, Heart to God, Brooklyn Bridge, The Statue of Liberty, Huey Long, and Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio.

Also known for his documentary on the history of jazz, Burns astounded audiences with its depth and beauty. In between work on his many new projects, he provides lecture audiences with a stunning and personal display of his gift for storytelling. His moving presentation eloquently celebrates America’s fascinating history and culture.

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The National Parks: A Treasure House of Nature’s Superlatives

Ken Burns discusses the great gift of our national parks with the same passion and depth that trademark his award-winning films. He notes that the immensity and the intimacy of time merge as we appreciate what the parks have added to our collective and individual spirit. This presentation begins with the 13-minute introduction from his documentary, National Parks: America's Best Idea.

Sharing the American Experience

In this 45 to 50 minute speech, compelling storyteller Ken Burns reminds the audience of the timeless lessons of history, and the enduring greatness and importance of the United States in the course of human events. Incorporating The Civil War, Baseball and Jazz, Burns engages and celebrates what we share in common.

No Ordinary Lives

Drawing on some of Lincoln's most stirring words as inspiration, this speech engages the paradox of war by following the powerful themes in two of Ken Burns’ best known works: The Civil War, his epic retelling of the most important event in American history, and The War, his intensely moving story of WWII told through the experiences of so-called ordinary people from four geographically distributed American towns. Burns opens with Norah Jones 5-minute American Anthem clip from The War.

Mystic Chords of Memory

The Civil War continues to be the most important event in American history. In this eloquent address, Burns paints both an intimate and bird’s eye view of the searing events of the years1861 through 1865 and the war’s profound relevance to us today.

American Lives

This keynote combines the biographies of some of Ken’s most fascinating subjects, including Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark and Frank Lloyd Wright. He shares how biography works, and gives insight into the storytelling process.

On-Stage Q&A

This is a less formal, Inside-the-Actors-Studio type of event. Ken Burns responds to questions on all his films and issues in history and contemporary American culture.

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