Kenneth Lauren “Ken” Burns (born July 29, 1953) is an American director and producer of documentary films known for his style of using archival footage and photographs. Among his most notable productions are The Civil War (1990), Baseball (1994), Jazz (2001), The War (2007), and The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (2009).
Burns’s documentaries have been nominated for two Academy Awards (Brooklyn Bridge in 1982 and The Statue of Liberty in 1986) and have won seven Emmy Awards, mostly for The Civil War and Baseball. Burns was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Lyla (née Tupper), a homemaker, and Robert Kyle Burns, an anthropology professor. His brother Ric Burns also has become a noted documentary filmmaker. Burns graduated from Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1971. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1975, and went on to be one of the co-founders of Florentine Films.
The recipient of more than 20… read more
The Aaron Copland of the movies, Burns is the most distinctly American of all documentary filmmakers. He extracts rich narratives within his stories, giving a highly personal perspective to his massive scope. At his best, this approach is incredibly engaging (especially considering the epic length of a lot of his work). When he isn't at his best, it can be a bit overblown, though.