Ken Burns is heading to war again.
Burns and longtime partner Lynn Novick are moving ahead on “Vietnam,” a documentary of approximately 10-12 hours, and they’re thinking long term. The premiere on PBS is scheduled for 2016.
“Today, more than four decades after it ended, nearly everyone has an opinion about the Vietnam War, but few Americans truly know its history and there is little consensus about what happened there, or why,” Burns said. “Our series will shed light both on the history of the war and on our inability to find common ground about it.”
In the style of previous docs including “The Civil War” and WWII-focused “The War,” Burns and Novick will rely not only on archival images but also on the firsthand testimonies of everyday citizens from both sides of the conflict abroad as well as the protests in the U.S.
Novick’s ambitions for the doc go beyond mere history. “We feel it is of paramount importance to honor the service and sacrifice of the men and women who did what our country asked of them, and went to Vietnam,” Novick said. “By providing an opportunity for veterans, their families, and those who opposed the war alike, to bear witness to their experiences, we believe that this series will help heal the deep divisions that have endured in America for decades over this enormously controversial and tragic war.”
Burns’ Florentine Films will co-produce “Vietnam” with Washington, D.C., public broadcasting station WETA. Burns and Novick share producer-director credits, and frequent Burns collaborator Geoffrey C. Ward will write. Sarah Botstein will also produce.The project that truly put Burns on the map, 1990’s “Civil War,” will be rebroadcast on PBS from Sunday-Thursday, connecting with the 150th anniversary of the start of the war this month.