Les Blank, a Friend of the Cerrito Theater

Friends of the Cerrito Theater mourn the passing of a great filmmaker, Les Blank. Blank, a soft-spoken man, made being soft spoken part of his style, as he became a fly on the wall observing — and filming — life around him.

Les Blank, November 4, 2005.

Les Blank at the groundbreaking for the reconstruction and restoration of the Cerrito Theater in 2005.

All the while he kept so quiet the people he filmed forgot he was there — hence the intense realism of his films, and their informality.

Les Blank lived in Berkeley but his film company Flower Films was right here in El Cerrito. He supported the preservation of the Cerrito Theater, attending several events in the early days, as Friends of the Cerrito Theater successfully urged the city to preserve the theater and raised funds for its preservation.

Blank is best known for his movies about folk music, ethnic music, and the like, “The Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins,” “Chulas Fronetras;” food (“Garlic is as Good as 10 Mothers“; and the classic “Werner Herzog eats his Shoe.”

But have you seen the two movies he made about the Maestro, the wonderful cowboy performance artist from Albany?

Les, who made 42 films, or maybe more, many with Chris Simon, was 77.

— Dave Weinstein, chairman, Friends of the Cerrito Theater