Titled We Shall Remain: Tecumseh, Burns' latest documentary is one of three the filmmaker is currently pursuing. Part two of a five-part series, the project, slated for broadcast in 2009, explores the history of Native America. The film will air on the award-winning public television series, American Experience. Since founding his own company, Steeplechase films in 1989, Burns has directed some of the most distinguished programs for American Experience, including Coney Island, an hour-long study of the amusement empire, which Time Magazine and the Chicago Tribune both praised as among the best programs on television.
In addition, Burns wrote and directed The Donner Party, which also received critical acclaim, including the Peabody Broadcasting Award from the University of Georgia. His other films include Ansel Adams, The Way West, Eugene O'Neil, which The Wall Street Journal called "a superbly told narrative of America's greatest playwright," and Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film, which earned an "A" from Entertainment Weekly as well as Emmy and Peabody Awards.
Burns is best known for his Emmy Award-winning, eight-part epic PBS series, New York, which chronicles the city's rise from a tiny Dutch trading post down through its continuing preeminence as the undisputed economic and cultural capital of the world. The first five episodes of the 17-and-a-half-hour film premiered in late 1999. The sixth and seventh episodes debuted in fall 2001, with the final episode airing in fall 2006. Each episode earned significant accolades with Variety calling the first few episodes "nothing short of gripping...a monumental documentary series that raises the bar for this kind of work and in the process elevates our knowledge and understanding of a metropolis that is still evolving."
Currently, in addition to We Shall Remain: Tecumseh, Burns is at work on two other documentaries. The first is a two-part, four-hour documentary about The New York Times, slated for national broadcast on public television in 2009. In the film, Burns provides an in-depth and richly detailed portrait of the rise and repeated transformation of the most influential news gathering organization in the history of journalism. At the same time, Burns is working on Into the Deep: America, Whaling & The World, which explores one of America's first global industries.
"Ric Burns brings the discussion of documentary to a new level," noted the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. "Going beyond the fascinating information that is so critical to his films, his commentary delves into the human impact of history, culture and tradition. More importantly, he makes us want to know more, to learn more, to grow. Ric Burns is constantly growing as an artist and an intellectual, and he stimulates us to do the same."
Educated at Columbia University and Cambridge University, Burns is co-author of two books, New York: An Illustrated History with James Sanders and Lisa Ades, and The Civil War with Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns. He lives in New York City with his wife and two young sons.
The William A. Kinnison Endowed Lecture in History was established under the auspices of the Board of Directors of Wittenberg with the assistance of numerous benefactors to honor Kinnison when he retired as president of the university in 1995. Kinnison, Wittenberg class of 1954, served as president of Wittenberg for more than 20 years.
The Witt Series is a selection of cultural activities annually presented by Wittenberg University. All Series events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Jeannine Fox, Series coordinator, at (937) 327-7470 or via e-mail.
Written By: Karen Gerboth
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