About the Series
Coming to WEDU PBS September 2017
THE VIETNAM WAR is a ten-part, 18-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that will air on WEDU PBS in September 2017.
In an immersive 360-degree narrative, Burns and Novick tell the epic story of the Vietnam War as it has never before been told on film. THE VIETNAM WAR features testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides.
Six years in the making, the series brings the war and the chaotic epoch it encompassed viscerally to life. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward, produced by Sarah Botstein, Novick and Burns, it includes rarely seen, digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of themost celebrated photojournalists of the 20th Century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, revelatory audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations and more than 100 iconic musical recordings by many of the greatest artists of the era.
The film will be accompanied by an unprecedented outreach and public engagement program, providing opportunities for communities to participate in a national conversation about what happened during the Vietnam War, what went wrong and what lessons are to be learned. In addition, there will be a robust interactive website and an educational initiative designed to engage teachers and students in multiple platforms.
Meet the Filmmakers
Click each name to open the bio for that filmmaker.
Ken Burns has been making documentary films for almost 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, Statue of Liberty; Huey Long; Lewis and 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; and, most recently, Cancer: The Emperor of all Maladies.
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 Ken 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."
Future projects include films on Jackie Robinson, the Vietnam War, the history of country music, Ernest Hemingway, and the history of stand-up comedy.
Ken’s films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including fourteen 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.
Lynn Novick has been making documentaries about American history for nearly twenty-five years. A director and producer, she has been a principal collaborator of Ken Burns since the early 1990s and together they have been responsible for more than 60 hours of programming, some of the most critically acclaimed and top-rated documentary films and series that have aired on PBS. Currently Novick is directing and producing — with Burns — The Vietnam War, a 14-16 hour series about the history and meaning of the conflict, airing in 2017, and Ernest Hemingway, a two-part biography of the writer slated for broadcast in 2019. Novick is also directing a feature length documentary exploring the personal and intellectual transformation of incarcerated men and women in a highly successful prison education program. Sarah Botstein is producing the film; Burns is its executive producer.
In 2011, Novick directed and produced (with Burns) Prohibition, a three part, five and a half hour series that was viewed by 22 million in its premiere broadcast, and received three Emmy nominations. The film tells the story of the rise, reign, and fall of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and all of its consequences – intended and otherwise. Prohibition raises vital questions that are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago – about means and ends, individual rights and responsibilities, the proper role of government, and finally, who is – and who is not – a real American.
In 2010, Novick was director and producer (with Burns) and writer (with Burns and David McMahon) of The Tenth Inning, a four hour update of the 1994 series, Baseball which brought the tumultuous story of our national pastime up to the present day.
In 2007 she was director and producer (with Burns) of The War, an epic seven-part series that told the story of the Second World War through the personal accounts of nearly 40 men and women from four American towns. The series explored the most intimate human dimensions of the greatest cataclysm in history and demonstrated that in extraordinary times, there are no ordinary lives. The War received 3 Emmy awards as well as the Television Critics’ Association award for best news and information program of 2007.
In 1998, Novick was director and producer (with Burns) of two-part biographical documentary, Frank Lloyd Wright, for which she received a Peabody Award. The film was shown at the Sundance, Telluride, Edinburgh and Seattle Film Festivals.
In 1994, she produced the most-watched series in the history of public television, Burns’s nine-part, 18 hour series, Baseball, (1994) for which she received an Emmy Award.
In 2001, Novick produced Burns’s 10-part series, Jazz, which explores in detail the culture, politics and dreams that gave birth to jazz music and follows this most American of art forms from its origins in blues and ragtime through swing, bebop and fusion. Jazz was nominated for five Emmy Awards.
Novick came to Florentine Films in 1989 to work on Burns’s landmark 1990 series, The Civil War, as associate producer for post production. She previously served as researcher and associate producer for Bill Moyers on two PBS series: Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth and A World of Ideas with Bill Moyers. A magna cum laude graduate of Yale with honors in American Studies, she lives in New York City.
Sarah Botstein has been producing award-winning documentaries at Florentine Films since 1997. Along with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, she is currently producing an epic series about the history and meaning of the Vietnam War, scheduled to broadcast on PBS in 2017, and a two-part biography of Ernest Hemingway, slated for broadcast in 2019. She is also producing a feature length documentary, directed by Lynn Novick, exploring the personal and intellectual transformation of incarcerated men and women in a highly successful prison education program. Ken Burns is the film’s Executive Producer.
Most recently, she produced and curated the content for the Ken Burns App, which launched in February 2014. The app employs cutting technology and innovative design to highlight themes in American history.
Botstein (along with Burns and Novick) also produced Prohibition (2011), a three-part series about the rise, rule, and fall of the 18th Amendment, and The War (2007), a seven-part series about the American experience of the Second World War. The War and Prohibition each received numerous awards, including several Emmy Awards, and were among the most-watched series on PBS in the past ten years. Botstein was also an associate producer on Jazz (2001), the critically acclaimed ten-part series.
In 2008, she and Burns partnered with Herzog and Company to produce The Work To Come, a tribute to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. The film premiered at the Democratic National Convention.
Botstein has served as an advisor on many other Florentine productions, including: The Central Park Five, The Dust Bowl, The Tenth Inning, and The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Prior to joining the company, she worked for Serino Coyne Public Relations and Owen Comora Associates, where she represented sponsors of Public Television and helped promote: The West, Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Botstein graduated from Barnard College/Columbia University with a degree in American Studies.
Sponsored in part by
Retired Officers’ Corporation at Freedom Plaza
Production Credits: THE VIETNAM WAR is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington D.C. Directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward. Produced by Sarah Botstein, Lynn Novick and Ken Burns.
Funding Credits: Funding provided by: Bank of America; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; PBS; David H. Koch; The Blavatnik Family Foundation; Park Foundation; The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; National Endowment for the Humanities; The Pew Charitable Trusts; Ford Foundation Just Films; Rockefeller Brothers Fund; and Members of The Better Angels Society: Jonathan & Jeannie Lavine, Diane & Hal Brierley, Amy & David Abrams, John & Catherine Debs, Fullerton Family Charitable Fund, The Montrone Family, Lynda & Stewart Resnick, The Golkin Family Foundation, The Lynch Foundation, The Roger & Rosemary Enrico Foundation, Richard S. & Donna L. Strong Foundation, Bonnie & Tom McCloskey, Barbara K. & Cyrus B. Sweet III, The Lavender Butterfly Fund