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October 11, 2007 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2007-10-11

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Arts & Entertainment

Albert Maysles popularized the use of the hand-held cam- The Beales of Grey Gardens: Secluded lives.
era and the portrayal of events as they are happening.

Lalee's Kin: A window into the world of
poverty and neglect.

Direct Cinema

Legendary Jewish filmmaker Albert Maysles dominates this year's
Detroit Docs International Film Festival.

Suzanne Chessler
Special to the Jewish News


ocumentary film fans flock-
ing to this year's Detroit Docs
International Film Festival will
have a chance to see the works of a master
and hear from him as well. In addition
to presenting many of the films of Albert
Maysles, the festival will host the filmmak-
er in two presentations, one where he will
speak about his work and take questions
from the audience and another in which
he'll be part of a panel discussion.
Maysles' films will be mixed in with
showings of cinema from many coun-
tries during a five-day program that also
focuses on creative competition among
film submissions and includes a seminar
on writing proposals for film projects.
The film festival runs Wednesday-Sunday,
Oct. 17-21, at the Detroit Film Theatre
(DFT) in the Detroit Institute of Arts, the
Detroit Film Center (DFC) on Washington
Boulevard in Detroit and the deSalle
Auditorium in the Cranbrook Art Museum
in Bloomfield Hills.
"This is the first year we've decided to
honor a filmmaker of such significance
says Joel Silvers, special events coordinator
for the festival and lecturer on film pro-
duction at Wayne State University.
"He is the founder of the direct cinema
movement and developed technology and
techniques that we continue to see every
day on television. He popularized the use
of the hand-held camera and the portrayal
of events as they are happening!"


October 11 • 2007


Maysles, 80, grew up in Boston as the
child of Jewish immigrants from Eastern
Europe. He segued into cinema projects
as a psychologist trying to explore mental
hospitals in 1955 Russia. Working with his
brother, David, who died in 1987, he went
on to cover a student revolution in Poland,
and his cinema fascination became the
center of his life.
He is perhaps best known for three
theatrical feature-film releases that gar-
nered great acclaim: Salesman (1968),
which follows four door-to-door Bible
salesmen as they walk the line between
hype and despair; Gimme Shelter (1970),
the dazzling portrait of Mick Jagger and
the Rolling Stones on their American
tour which culminated in a killing at the
notorious concert at Altamont; and Grey
Gardens (1976), which captures on film
the haunting relationship of the Beales
(relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis),
a mother and daughter living secluded
lives in a decaying East Hampton man-
Among Maysles' films being shown
locally are Grey Gardens, at 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 20, at the DFT, followed by
a question-and-answer session with the
filmmaker that will include clips of a new
work-in-progress, a film autobiography
of his life and work. The Beales of Grey
Gardens (2006), drawn from never-before-
seen footage from the Maysles archives,
which was shot and for, but not used in,
the 1976 film, screens 7:30 p.m. Sunday,
Oct. 21.
A program from 1-3:30 p.m. Saturday,

Oct. 20, at the DFT features Maysles'
Primary (1960), which reports on the
primary presidential campaigns of John
Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. It will
be followed by a panel discussion with
Maysles, journalist Jack Lessenberry and
local filmmakers Sue Marx and Harvey
Opening the Detroit Docs festival's
screening of films in competition on
Wednesday, Oct. 17, at the DFT are two
shorts by the year's honored documentary
filmmaker. Screening at 7 p.m. is Orson
Welles in Spain, in which Welles pitches
an idea for a film to wealthy arts patrons;
and, at 9:30 p.m., Cut Piece, which docu-
ments a Yoko Ono stage performance.
Short films by the Maysles Brothers
screen 7 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18,
at the DFT and include With Love from
Truman (1966), a candid portrayal of
author-playwright Truman Capote; Meet
Marlon Brando (1965), which showcases
the star courting the press; Russian Close-
Up (1957), a visual diary of the brothers'
motorcycle ride through the Soviet Union;
and Muhammad and Larry (1980), cap-
turing a clash between boxers Muhammad
Ali and Larry Holmes.
Another Maysles film, Lalee's Kin (2000),
about a family's struggles with racism and
poverty and a superintendent dealing with
an embattled school system, both in the
Mississippi Delta, screens 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 19, at the DFT.
Screening 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, at
the DFT is the Maysles Brothers' Christo in
Paris (1986), about the artist's early years

and his 10-year obsession — the wrapping
of the Pont Neuf in Paris; and Running
Fence (1978), about Christo's efforts to
build a 24-mile fence of white fabric across
the hills of northern California.
Films being screened at the Detroit
Docs festival cover a wide range of topics
and reach from Marianne Kaplan's The
Boy Inside, about dealing with autism (7
p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, at the DFC), to
Lainy Bagwell and Lacey Leavitt's Blood
on the Flat Track: The Rise of the Rat City
Roller Girls, about the resurgence of roller
derby competition (9:30 p.m. Saturday,
Oct. 20, at the DFC).
Maysles, based in New York, sponsors a
program that teaches impoverished chil-
dren how to make films. Each participant
has at least one parent in prison, and the
finished works are forwarded to that par-
ent as the child desires.
The filmmaker previewed his upcoming
presentations during an interview with the
Detroit Jewish News:

JN: What do you like to
emphasize to people attending
film festivals?
AM: I like to emphasize the good that
can be done by making documentaries. I
think it's clear that the world would be a
better place if we knew more about what's
going on and if we had direct knowledge
of our neighbors and people outside our
normal realm. We need to find common
ground with one another, and the docu-
mentary puts us directly in touch with
what's going on.

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