[The video embedded above presents a conversation with] one of America’s foremost non-fiction filmmakers, Albert Maysles who along with his brother David (1932-1987) is recognized as a pioneer of direct cinema, the distinctly American version of French cinéma vérité. Their seminal early films Salesman (1968), Gimme Shelter(1970), and Grey Gardens (1976) became cult classics and are still finding new rapturous audiences. On the occasion of the publication of A Maysles Scrapbook: Photographs/Cinemagraphs/Documents, Maysles screens selections from filmed portraits of Orson Welles, Marlon Brando, and Truman Capote, and takes audience questions (courtesy of Hammer Museum at UCLA, March 10, 2009 on YouTube).
‘The documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles describes how using his digital video camera inspired him “to tape the little things that I witness in everyday life. They’d be pieces of poetry”‘, Aisling Kelliher, Everyday Cinema, MIT Media Lab
‘We can see two types of truth here. One is the raw material, which is the footage, the kind of truth that you get in literature in diary form – it’s immediate, no one has tampered with it. Then there’s the other kind of truth that comes in extracting and juxtaposing the raw material into a more meaningful and coherent storytelling form, which finally can be said to be more than just raw data.’ Stella Bruzzi citing Albert Maysles in ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’, EnterText 1.2, Spring 2001
It’s Thanksgiving and Albert Maysles’s birthday today. It’s very much a poignant timing for the latter occasion as the artist (and partner to Christo) Jeanne-Claude (Denat de Guillebo), who featured in a series of the Maysles’s Brothers‘ films, died on November 18, 2009. But, this year, Film Studies For Free is marking all three observances, and giving thanks for the Maysles’s highly influential filmmaking, with its usual tribute of links, below, to high-quality scholarly and other interesting online resources, in addition to the great video embedded above.
- Kevin B. Lee’s video essay on Grey Gardens (1975, Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer) with commentary by Vadim Rizov
- Shooting People’s Albert Maysles Glasses website
- Søren Birkvad, ‘A Battle for Public Mythology: History and Genre in the Portrait Documentary’, Nordicom Review 2/2000
- Joseph Heumann and Robin L. Murray, ‘Dark Days: A narrative of environmental adaptation’, Jump Cut, No. 48, Winter 2006
- Tim O’Farrell, ‘Review of Jonathan B Vogels, The Direct Cinema of David and Albert Maysles. Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press, 2005’, Screening the Past, Vol. 20, 2006
- Tim O’Farrell, ‘No Direction Home: Looking Forward from Don’t Look Back’, Senses of Cinema, 38, 2006
- H. Russell Searight, ‘Review of: The Beales of Grey Gardens By Albert and David Maysles (Directors)’