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Ken Burns Exciting Digital News


Innovative App to Premiere February 2014

New Companion Website, “Ken Burns America,” Featuring Resources For All of Burns’s Films, Also Launches in February on

(New York, NY) – February 10, 2014 – The Ken Burns App, launched for iPad on February 10, 2014, sets the stage for an innovative look at more than two centuries of American history from a curated look at selected excerpts from the entire library of Ken Burns and Florentine Films programs seen on PBS stations nationwide. The app can be found in the Apple app store at:

Marking the filmmaker’s first complete catalog foray into the digital space, the Ken Burns App is one part of a digital initiative that will enable fans to experience and explore the films as never before. Also in February PBS, Burns’s broadcasting network since his first film, THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE aired in 1982, and WETA, the Washington, DC public television station, will officially launch a newly created website dedicated exclusively to the work of Burns and Florentine Films — a comprehensive destination culled from Burns’s more than 25 documentary films.

A short video about the app is available here:

The Ken Burns App was conceived, directed and produced by his longtime friend Don MacKinnon. Florentine Films producer Sarah Botstein, who worked with Burns on JAZZ, THE WAR and PROHIBITION, worked closely with MacKinnon to produce and curate content for the project. The digital agency Big Spaceship collaborated with the team to create a platform on which to view Burns’s work and experience his films in a new way.

Burns also added his own voice in exclusive interviews and created six thematic playlists — with selected scenes from his films — that illustrate how a specific theme shaped American history. For each playlist — Race, War, Innovation, Art, Hard Times and Politics — Burns has provided extensive filmed introductions, putting the selected stories in context, telling behind-the-scenes stories, connecting the moment to the larger theme. As a result, users see how, as Burns describes it, “the collisions of free electrons of a scene from this film and a scene from that film made 20 years apart suddenly interrelate in a new way.”

“Our films are made in a small town in New Hampshire over many years, with images and stories woven together in a way that we hope brings experiences of the past into the present,” Burns continues. “Working with some of the most talented people in tech today, we’ve tried to rethink how we can tell the story of America using our films and technology. Apple has long used an element of my filmmaking in its programs, which they call the Ken Burns Effect. I’m so excited to now be using Apple’s platforms to create a radically new way to present my work and reach new viewers.”
The app — developed exclusively for the iPad — seamlessly integrates with other platforms to let users further explore specific films they discover. Users can watch curated scenes inside the app. They can tap a button to be directed to where they can acquire an entire film via shopPBS, iTunes or Netflix. Each scene is also linked directly to dedicated pages on the newly launched PBS website, Ken Burns America (, where users will find a rich resource of information about each film.
MacKinnon, who first met Burns and Botstein 1999 when they collaborated on the music release for JAZZ while MacKinnon was head of Starbucks Entertainment, remarks, “Through his films, Ken Burns reinvented how we experience the stories of our history. With this app, we’re able to bring his films together in a way that allows them to cross-pollinate one another, revealing the most relevant themes of the American story.”
The Ken Burns America website, created in partnership with PBS and WETA and developed by Kapow, Inc., will officially launch in February. Through the generous support of The Better Angels Society, a non-profit dedicated to helping Burns tell America’s stories, and PBS, the Ken Burns America website was created to serve as an integrated online presence for the films. The web site and educational materials will be free. While the Ken Burns app is free and has free content, there is a $9.99 charge to access all of the app’s content. The app will also be discounted for educators.
On this new website, users have access to hundreds of photographs, primary source materials, interview excerpts and media spanning the entire body of Ken Burns’s work, organized both chronologically and geographically. The site features essays, biographies and a screening room, as well as information about each film and the filmmakers.

A rich resource for educators, the website was designed to allow teachers to access more than 75 classroom lessons, as well as search through film clips, resources and assets by theme and topic. The lessons were developed for use in grades 7-12, but are adaptable to other grade levels and include complete background information, discussion questions, extension activities and objective evaluation measures.

All educational materials address key curriculum subjects such as social studies, U.S. and world history, civics and government, and geography and were designed to support critical thinking and reasoning, problem-solving, creativity and innovation, media literacy, communication and collaboration, and other life skills.

Burns further remarks, “The iPad app and the PBS website allow me to talk about and present my work in an entirely new way — one that reveals how my films interrelate. I could not be more excited by this opportunity to engage everyone through these ongoing, evolving platforms, using the flexibility of the digital world.”

Burns noted that his films will continue to premiere on PBS, with “THE ADDRESS” scheduled for April 15, 2014 and “THE ROOSEVELTS: AN INTIMATE HISTORY” airing September, 2014.

Burns’s 1994 film BASEBALL remains the most-watched series on PBS with a cume of 43.1 million, followed by the premiere broadcast of THE CIVIL WAR in 1990, which had a cume of 38.9 million. Rounding out the top five Burns premieres of all time are NATIONAL PARKS in September 2009 with a cume of 33.4 million, the encore of THE CIVIL WAR in September 2002 with a cume of 32.1 million and finally JAZZ in January 2001, with a 30.6 million cume.

Other Burns films include THE DUST BOWL (2012), PROHIBITON (2011), THE WAR (2007), JAZZ (2001) and LEWIS AND CLARK: THE JOURNEY OF THE CORPS OF DISCOVERY (1997) .

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