TELLURIDE – Ken Burns, director and producer of several of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War, the highest-rated series in the history of American public television, will premiere his newest work in Telluride at the 2009 Mountainfilm Festival over Memorial Day weekend.
The National Parks, America’s Best Idea traces the evolution of the park system from its birth 150 years ago to its current presence in 49 of our 50 states. Preeminent historian and novelist Wallace Stegner called the uniquely American idea of preserving prime parts of the national landscape for the public, “the best idea we ever had.” No other federal program has enjoyed such universal support and public loyalty.
Burns’s film is a biography of the most compelling characters in the often-turbulent national parks story, and a sweeping portrait of the incomparably vast and diverse American landscape. It is a tale that is both celebratory and cautionary, framed by the richest imagery ever captured on film of our nation’s most beautiful places.
Interweaving archival photographs with the most extensive contemporary footage of any of his films since Lewis and Clark, Burns also blends first-person historical accounts and live interviews with people who continue to be transformed and inspired by the parks today. The result is another in a long series of visually arresting and deeply informative films from America’s foremost documentary filmmaker.
“Premiering The National Parks is a perfect fit for Mountainfilm,” says Festival Director David Holbrooke. “It combines so many of the themes that we explore and embody every year, including environmental awareness, adventure, activism and celebration of indomitable spirit. Our mission is to educate and inspire. I think that about exactly matches Ken’s credo.”
Burns describes Mountainfilm as “America’s premiere showcase of mountain, adventure, cultural and environmental film and video.” Its themes, he says, “affect every human being on this planet.”