PASADENA, Calif. – Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, who has directed and produced some of the most admired documentaries about the history of the United States, was announced today as the 2016 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshal. Throughout his almost 40-year career making documentary films, Burns, age 62, has been honored with countless awards, including 14 Emmy® Awards, two Grammy® Awards and two Oscar® nominations. Burns will ride in the 127th Rose Parade® presented by Honda, themed “Find Your Adventure” on January 1, 2016.
Tournament of Roses President, Mike Matthiessen, made the announcement at a public event at Tournament House in Pasadena, during which the 2016 Grand Marshal was revealed through a celebratory documentary video created by Burns — http://youtu.be/eUoebRg5_p8.
“Ken Burns is a legendary figure and a great fit for this year’s Rose Parade theme, ‘Find Your Adventure,’” Matthiessen said. “We’re so honored to have someone like Ken, who has devoted his life to telling the story of America, lead the Rose Parade – America’s New Year Celebration® – that provides hope and joy to millions of people around the world.”
The “Find Your Adventure” theme for the 2016 Rose Parade is a result of a unique partnership between the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and the U.S. National Park Service, which will celebrate its centennial in 2016. Among Burns’s 2009 film, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea focused on the ideas and individuals that helped propel the parks and the National Park Service into existence. The series was filmed over the course of more than six years at some of the country’s most spectacular locales, from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon and the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska. The National Parks: America’s Best Idea won Emmy® Awards for “Outstanding Nonfiction Series” and “Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming,” as well as the 2010 CINE Golden Eagle Award.
“The Rose Parade is an annual tradition woven into the fabric of America, so it’s such an honor to be chosen as the Grand Marshal,” said Burns. “I’ve never been to the Parade in person, so this will be a new adventure for me. I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with my family and all the fans of the Rose Parade who will be watching on New Year’s Day.”
Burns quickly became known for his style of using archival footage and photographs in documentary films, characterized by slowly zooming in and panning to subjects of interest – deemed “The Ken Burns Effect.” Since the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Burns 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 Roosevelts: An Intimate History; which have all aired on PBS.
For these accomplishments and more, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored Burns with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the News & Documentary Emmy® Awards in September 2008. Future projects that Burns has in the works include films on Jackie Robinson, the Vietnam War, the history of country music, Ernest Hemingway and the history of stand-up comedy. Burn’s next film, Jackie Robinson, made with his daughter Sarah Burns and her husband David McMahon, will air on PBS on April 11 and 12, 2016.
Burns was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1953. He graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1975 and went on to be one of the co-founders of Florentine Films.