A December 2002 poll conducted by Real Screen Magazine listed The Civil War as second only to Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North as the “most influential documentary of all time,” and named Burns and Robert Flaherty as the “most influential documentary makers” of all time. In March 2009, David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun said, “… Burns is not only the greatest documentarian of the day, but also the most influential filmmaker period. That includes feature filmmakers like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. I say that because Burns not only turned millions of persons onto history with his films, he showed us a new way of looking at our collective past and ourselves.” The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of his films, "More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source." And Wynton Marsalis has called Burns “a master of timing, and of knowing the sweet spot of a story, of how to ask questions to get to the basic human feeling and to draw out the true spirit of a given subject.”
Future film projects include Leonardo da Vinci, The American Revolution, Emancipation to Exodus, and LBJ & the Great Society, among others.
Burns' films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including sixteen Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, and two Oscar nominations. In September of 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Burns was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award. In November of 2022, Burns was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
Burns was born in Brooklyn, NY. He graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA.
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