The Centennial Celebrity Speaker

What is the event? On November 5, 2015, as a culmination of the Centennial Celebrations at Collegiate, the school will be hosting acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns for a speech followed by a discussion open to the community. Burns will give his speech ‘Sharing the American Experience’ and will follow with a discussion moderated by Edward L. Ayers, historian and University of Richmond President Emeritus. Tickets are on sale at $50 for Adults and $20 for students. In addition to the night event, both Upper and Middle School assemblies will feature Burns as a guest speaker that day.  


Photo credit: /peabodyawards/14284137065/

Who is Ken Burns? Ken Burns is considered by many to be one of the most influential filmmakers of our time. Burn’s passion for filming was evident at a young age when he cofounded Florentine Films after graduating Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1975, instigating the beginning of Burns’s career in filmography. Burns made his debut as a documentarian when he created his first documentary, Brooklyn Bridge, which earned an Academy Award Nomination for best documentary. Since then, Burns has written, edited, produced and directed numerous other documentaries, including The Civil War, Baseball and Jazz. The Civil War is credited as Burns chef-d’oeuvre and has merited Burns two Emmys. The Civil War appeared on Realscreen Magazine’s December 2002 poll as second place for “the most influential documentary of all time”. Burns also appeared in this poll as one of two recipients of the title of “most influential documentary maker” of all time.

Perhaps the greatest cause of Burn’s success is his ability to create video documentaries about eras that lacked video archives. He achieves this by weaving together period music, photographs, footage (when available), and narrated correspondence. Under his supervision, Burns can transform a still photograph or painting into a seemingly action-packed sequence through his use of auditory and visual enhancements of that still.

Ken Burns news: In honor of the 25th Anniversary of his most acclaimed documentary, The Civil War, Burns recently appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation in an interview where he ruminated and reflected on the Civil War and modern racism. In his interview, Burns expressed his belief that slavery was the cause of the Civil War and how this same racism still exists today. Burns remarked that despite many Americans’ belief that electing President Obama proves the eradication of racism, instances such as the Birther Movement prove racism remains a stain on America’s conscience.

Why should people go to Burns’ talk? Perhaps the greatest attestment to Burn’s influence can be found on any Mac computer. In the iPhoto and iMovie apps, Apple has an optional ‘Ken Burns effect’ that, like the filmmaker’s trademark style, zooms and pans on still imagery during a video. Throughout his career, Burns has earned numerous other accolades; historian Stephen Ambrose said “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.” Many writers, reporters and fellow filmmakers have bestowed similar praise on both Burns and his work throughout the years. Burns comes to Richmond with an impressive list of accolades and awards, including 13 Emmys, two Oscar nominations, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Science.

Burns’ talk will be followed by an open question and answer session, where the acclaimed documentarian will be available to opine on and discuss a variety of topics with the audience. This unique opportunity appeals to persons of all walks of life. As a history buff, one can pick the brains of a man well-versed in politics and facts; as a film buff, one can get advice on the industry; and as a regular person, one can be in the presence of a man who has played an instrumental role in shaping modern day American culture.

About the author

Georgia is new to writing bios and doesn't know what to say here. She is a junior at Collegiate and enjoys long walks on the beach.