NEW YORK (AP) — Brothers and fellow filmmakers Ken and Ric Burns have received an honorary prize from the New-York Historical Society.
The Burns siblings, whose many credits together and separately include documentaries on the Pilgrims, baseball and New York, were presented with the society's History Makers Award at a gala benefit Monday night in Manhattan. Society executive committee chair Roger Hertog praised the filmmakers as "candle lighters" and "whistle blowers" who showed how understanding history was vital to the present. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, a featured commentator for Ken Burns' "Jazz," performed a brief duet with pianist Dan Nimmer.
The Burns brothers, speaking together on stage, exchanged compliments and family memories. Ken Burns spoke of their mother dying of cancer when they were kids and how that loss has stayed with him through his long career, making his pursuit of the past deeply personal. He praised his brother for bringing a "gift of language" to their work, while Ric Burns noted the fierce dedication of his older border, with whom he first collaborated on the acclaimed Civil War documentary series released in 1990.
"If he thought you didn't care as much as he did, it literally would enrage him," Ric Burns said.
Previous winners of the History Makers Award include "Hamilton" playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, Henry Kissinger and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who on Monday night was debating Republican nominee Donald Trump.