Rolling Stone: See Vince Gill’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ From Ken Burns ‘Country Music’ Concert

Country Music: Live at the Ryman, A Concert Celebrating the Film by Ken Burns’ will air on PBS on September 8th

One week ahead of the premiere of Country Music, the eight-part historical documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns, PBS will air Country Music: Live at the Ryman, A Concert Celebrating the Film by Ken Burns, an all-star celebration of the genre featuring performances by Vince GillDierks Bentley, Rosanne Cash, Rhiannon Giddens, Kathy Mattea, Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakam and more. Hosted by the filmmaker, the concert touched on the many styles that have defined and propelled country music through the years, from old-time mountain melodies and bluegrass to outlaw country and the Nashville Sound. [READ MORE]

The Better Angels Society is Pleased to Announce the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film


Annual Award to Recognize Exemplary Accomplishment in Historical Documentaries
Next Generation Angels Prize for Young Filmmakers to be Presented in Partnership with National History Day

Washington, DC – March 5, 2019 – The Better Angels Society, the Library of Congress, and the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation today announced the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, an annual award to recognize exemplary accomplishment in historical documentaries.

The award, which will be presented each fall at a gala at the Library of Congress, will recognize a filmmaker whose documentary uses original research and compelling narrative to tell stories that touch on some aspect of American history.  More information about the award and requirements for submission can be found at:  The winner will receive a $200,000 finishing grant to help with the final production of the film. The submission deadline for the inaugural prize is June 1.

“I’ve been very fortunate to spend my career focused on our country’s history,” said Ken Burns.  “While each film is different, they all ask the same question about who we are as a people.  History is of course fraught with complexity and is often divisive. But somehow by confronting this history together, and the many stories that make it up, we become closer.  I’m honored and humbled to join the Library of Congress, The Better Angels and Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine and the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation to help other filmmakers working in this space share their stories.  By supporting their work, and diverse stories and voices, I’m hopeful we can engage new generations of Americans in understanding our past.”

“Documentary film is one of the most engaging media for bringing our nation’s history to life,” said Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress. “As Ken has demonstrated prolifically and beautifully through his work over the years, piecing together historic photographs, manuscripts, music, oral histories and other primary source materials into a narrative moving image can capture our hearts and minds like nothing else. The Library is a treasure trove of these materials, and I hope this new prize elevates awareness of the Library as an inspirational national resource among documentary filmmakers of the present and the future. We are honored to join The Better Angels, Ken and the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation to launch this award.”

“We believe an understanding of history is critical to a healthy and functioning democracy,” noted Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine.  “We are exceptionally proud of the support we have provided Ken and his team.  We are equally excited about building on this work and creating a new program in partnership with our colleagues at The Better Angels Society and the Library of Congress. This prize will recognize other filmmakers working in this space and the stories that they can share with the millions of Americans who have learned about America’s past from the extraordinary work of Ken Burns.”  Jeannie Lavine works on several national boards, including The Better Angels Society’s Board of Directors. Jonathan Lavine is the Co-Managing Partner of Bain Capital and a Co-Chair of the Trustees of Columbia University.

Interested filmmakers are invited to apply for the award through the website at

To be eligible for the award, films must meet the following criteria:

  1. The project must be a late stage documentary film with a running time of 60 minutes or more.
  2. The subject matter of the film must be American history.
  3. The applicant must have previously produced or directed at least one long-form documentary for broadcast or online distribution.
  4. The applicant must submit 20 minutes of a rough or fine cut AND a script of a full-length rough or fine cut at time of submission of application. (Note: Upon request, applicant will need to be able to provide a full-length rough or fine cut for review.)
  5. Industrial, promotional, branded content or instructional films are not eligible.

In addition to the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, The Better Angels will partner with National History Day, to award the Next Generation Angels Awards recognizing six individual documentary filmmakers in the junior and senior divisions.  These include an award named in memory of Anne Harrington, a colleague who handled outreach and education for Burns’s films who passed away in 2018.  Finalists will be recognized at the National History Day National Contest held each June at the University of Maryland, College Park, and will return for special programming to honor them and showcase their work in the fall. Winners will be invited to attend the Library of Congress award gala in Washington, D.C. as well.  More information about the award is also available at:

About Ken Burns

Ken Burns has been making documentary films for over forty years.  Since the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Ken has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War; Baseball; Jazz; The Statue of Liberty; Huey Long; Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery; Frank Lloyd Wright; Mark Twain; Unforgivable Blackness:  The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson; The War; The National Parks:  America’s Best Idea; The Roosevelts:  An Intimate History; Jackie Robinson; Defying the Nazis:  The Sharps’ War; The Vietnam War, and, most recently, The Mayo Clinic:  Faith – Hope – Science.  Ken’s films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including sixteen Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards and two Oscar nominations; and in September of 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Ken was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

About The Better Angels Society

The Better Angels Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating Americans about their history through documentary film. Their mission is to educate, engage and provoke thoughtful discussion among people of every political persuasion and ideology. They work to ensure historically significant films are completed, broadcast, promoted, and shared in ways that reach and inform as many people as possible through robust educational and civic outreach. The Society is currently raising funds for films in production and planned over the next ten years.

The Better Angels Society is also working to ensure that the next generation of documentary filmmakers, inspired by Ken Burns and his team, receive the education, mentoring, training, and support they need to continue his legacy.

About The Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation

Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine established the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation to focus a significant portion of their philanthropic efforts toward leveling the playing field for individuals and families. The Foundation works to address pressing social challenges in the areas of education, community and public service, health and welfare, discrimination and poverty. The Foundation supports the multi-disciplinary efforts of organizations that serve to strengthen society through research, innovation, public policy, direct service and advocacy.

 About the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.  Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at and register creative works of authorship at


DONOR SPOTLIGHT: Lynda and Stewart Resnick

Lynda and Stewart Resnick pledged a generous $1 million gift to The Better Angels Society to further the educational outreach associated with Ken Burns’ PBS documentary, The Vietnam War.  Continuing their long-standing commitment to strategic and impact-driven philanthropic work, the Resnicks’ gift ensured that high schools across America are equipped with the curriculum developed to accompany this watershed film series.  U.S. classrooms too often fall short in covering this defining chapter in contemporary American history, so to reverse this troubling omission, students will be given access and learning opportunities related to Burns’ project to advance their understanding of this complicated, controversial and pivotal point in our history.

“Few filmmakers have adequately  explored the emotional  
toll the Vietnam War took on our country.
Ken’s extraordinary filmmaking talent is perfectly suited to capture the true sadness surrounding this horrible conflict .”

Lynda Resnick’s personal interest in providing the next generation with a greater understanding of this period in our nation’s history stems from her own connection to the Vietnam War.  Early in Lynda’s career, her close friend Daniel Ellsberg used the copy machine in her advertising agency offices on nights and weekends to copy 34 volumes of “Classified” and “Eyes-Only” documents related to the war.  While Lynda did not actually read any of the material because she did not have the proper security clearance, she supported Ellsberg’s mission, believing their efforts would help bring the terrible conflict in Vietnam to a close.

A year later, a few days after reading reports in the news about Ellsberg and the “Pentagon Papers,” two FBI agents knocked on Lynda’s door to serve a subpoena naming her as an unindicted co-conspirator and ordering her to appear before a grand jury the next day.  After multiple appearances before the grand jury and a trial, both Ellsberg and Lynda were acquitted.

As Lynda recalls in her best-selling autobiography Rubies in the Orchard, for “two years I was pursued by a very nasty prosecutor, and my life was dominated by the Pentagon Papers case.  Eventually, the case against Dan was dismissed and the cloud of potential prosecution lifted.  I crawled out of a very dark place.  Not so the nation.  The misery of Vietnam was soon compounded by the shock of Watergate.  Together they took the air out of the country’s sails.  The war ended and Watergate passed, but the cynicism lingered…a deeper and more abiding cynicism than America had ever known.”


Lynda and Stewart Resnick’s passion for ensuring the next generation has the skills to succeed in a more complex and global world have led them to completely transform communities in the island nation of Fiji and across the Central Valley of California, where many of their agriculture industry employees live.  Through Lynda’s hands-on philanthropic work in community development, education and health and wellness, the Resnicks are transforming the paradigm of poverty in the Central Valley region.

“Fifty years ago, we were living and breathing the war.  We knew the boys that were fighting, and it was a heart-wrenching era in our lives,” Lynda explained.  “This glimpse into the tragedy and sadness of Vietnam will help give students a real idea of what war can do to a society and its youngest generations, and how troubling this time in our not-so-distant past really was.”

“I am convinced that creating curriculum based on Ken’s emotionally charged and historically factual film will actively change the way the Vietnam War is taught in our schools and will make a huge impact on how much the next generation understands about this important, and still ongoing, chapter in American history,” Lynda said.


The Resnicks’ goal in working with The Better Angels Society is not simply to fund creation of curriculum based on the series, but to ensure that thousands of schools which might not have had access to the film as a resource can actively teach the Vietnam War in a new and dynamic way. The Resnick’s generosity and vision have made it possible for curricula and other resources to be developed so that they are ready to be implemented by middle and high school teachers when the film is released in September of 2017.

Their gift will make it possible for print kits with the full film series on DVD to be distributed to 25,000 schools across the country, directly impacting hundreds of thousands of students and their teachers.  Among the resources will be Activity Packs (created in both online and print formats) that will include video clips, primary source material, activity ideas and lesson plans, an interactive quiz, a resource list, and connections to Common Core and national standards.  The kit has also been tested by classroom teachers and has undergone multiple reviews by the Society’s educator advisory board.