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Hot Docs 2013: Les Blank Retrospective, Program 1 The Maestros

Hot Docs 2013: Les Blank Retrospective, Program 1 The Maestros

| On 30, Apr 2013

We had the good fortune to be able to secure a few advance screeners for some of our top Hot Docs film picks. Tonight the Les Blank Retrospective begins with the Maestros program which includes: Dizzy Gillespie, The Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins and The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists.

Dizzy Gillespie, Directed by Les Blank  (20 minutes)

Quick Summary: Released in 1965, Les Blank films Dizzy Gillespie in 1964 playing with his band, chatting on how he got his start playing and his thoughts on music theory.

Our Thoughts: This grainy black and white short film captures the spirit of Dizzy Gillespie and his talent. Not only do you wish you could have been there to hang out with him, you also feel compelled to immediately put on his albums and listen for days.  It is easy to see why Dizzy Gillespie inspired many generations of  musicians.  Les Blank’s ability to capture a moment in time and the spirit of the person is undeniable.

The Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins, Directed by Les Blank with Skip Gerson (31 minutes)

Quick Summary: Les Blank visits legendary bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins in Texas during 1968.  Fantastic vivid footage of Lightinin’ Hopkins playing the blues with friends which includes an outdoor bbq scene, is interchanged with footage from his home town of Centerville, TX and a black rodeo.

Our Thoughts:  Being schooled on the meaning of the blues, coming straight from the mouth (and gold teeth) of  Lightnin’ Hopkins’ is surreal. The footage of his home town, and the people in it, captures the hardship of life and the joy found from music.  The rare footage of a black rodeo in Texas is an added bonus for historians. Les Blank continues with his ability to capture a moment in time and the people in that place with phenomenal results.  By far, this film is worth the price of a ticket.

The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists, Directed by Les Blank (54 minutes)

Quick Summary: A portrait of Gerry Gaxiola ,The Maestro, a dedicated husband and father who decides to quit his job to become a Cowboy artist (paintings, boots, clothes, drawings and songs).

Our Thoughts: We love to celebrate anyone brave enough to follow their heart and find their own distinctive path in life.  This short film follows The Maestro as he chats about his art and his need to create it, but not wanting to sell it.  Les Blank showcases the history of The Maestro’s  family and how it has shaped his vision of life, along with the spectacular support of his wife and daughter.  It is incredibly safe to say there really is no one quite like The Maestro.

Screening info:

Les Blank


  • Les Blank Program 1: Maestros – BUY TICKETS
    TUE, APR 30, 9:00 PM – Innis Town Hall
  • Les Blank Program 2: Well Spent Lives – BUY TICKETS
    FRI, MAY 3, 3:00 PM – TIFF Bell Lightbox 4
  • Les Blank Program 3: Pleasures – BUY TICKETS
    SAT, MAY 4, 6:30 PM – Innis Town Hall


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