“How do you teach someone to film?” documentary luminary Richard Leacock asks legendary filmmaker Les Blank. “How do you teach someone to smell a rose?”
In 2000, Les Blank (AIFF Artistic Achievement Award honoree) and co-director Gina Leibrecht brought their camera on a visit to Leacock and Valerie Lalonde, Leacock’s wife and collaborator, at their home in rural France. From that footage comes a bittersweet valentine to two documentary trailblazers suffused with their passion for life, cinema, and — not least of all — food. Rustic meals and long walks blend with memorable moments from Leacock’s 70-year career that has inspired generations of filmmakers. With the passing of both Blank (in 2013) and Leacock (in 2011), the documentary leaves behind a vibrant, joyous record of two men who knew how to experience — and capture — life’s richness.
Director’s Statement: Gina Leibrecht
Les Blank first met Richard Leacock in the late 1960s. They became mutual admirers of one another’s work and their friendship endured until Leacock’s death in 2011. In the late 1990s, Leacock had retired and was living on a farm in Normandy. Blank brought his young collaborator — me — on a visit, and together, we collected Ricky’s stories about his long career as a filmmaker, innovator, and fabulous cook! The film was put on the back burner for over a decade, but shortly before Blank’s death in 2013, he asked me to finish the film without him.
Sponsored by Ashland Food Co-op