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Starting out in photography: first cameras


Love for my younger brother and a motorcycle trip to Eastern Europe
Albert Maysles Film-maker
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Hardly a week would go by when I was a kid when there wasn't some Irish kid that would say I'll meet you outside- outside the school, in the schoolyard. And, of course, that meant a challenge to have a fight. And I always took the challenge. And I can't say that I never lost a fight but I can't remember having lost a fight and fights were pretty evenly matched. But one day somebody challenged me to a fight, we- and we fought in the school-yard at the end of the school day. And, as always, there'd be a ring of kids around us- Irish kids cheering for the Irish kid and the Jewish kids cheering for the Jewish kid. And I just took it as a routine sort of thing. I didn't think much about it. And when the fighting was over- and it was a severe battle- we didn't hurt each other but we landed a bunch of pretty strong punches. As I left I went through the ring and there I saw this little kid, only five- I had to be about ten- and he's crying. And it's my brother. So I hold his little hand and the two of us walk home the way we always did. But he couldn't stop crying. And I don't know, as I look back on it now, I'm not sure that I tried to stop his crying because, because with all that crying I felt the kind of love that I- no matter what he would have said, assuring me of his love, that act of crying, you know, that meant, that meant that he really loved me a great deal. And that devotion that we had for each other persisted all the way through our lives so that we became very good, in our work as well, devoted to each other and devoted to the films that we made. We made a motorcycle trip from Germany where we purchased, at great discount, a BMW motorcycle. We got the discount because we were about to take a motorcycle trip into Eastern Europe- Hungary and Russia- and so, at a time in 1957 when very few people had that opportunity. And I remember very well that there were days when we traveled such long stretches, maybe two or three hundred miles- exhausting. So that as each driver got very tired we changed positions and in changing positions the man in back would put his arms around the driver and put his head against the driver's shoulder by the neck, and the driver would take one hand off the handlebar and hold those two hands together so that the man in back wouldn't fall off. That's my memory of how we traveled and how, in a metaphorical way, we were devoted to each other's good health.

Albert Maysles (1926-2015) known for his important documentaries on Muhammad Ali, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, pioneered the documentary style known as Direct Cinema. He helped create techniques still widely used in modern documentary production, as well as many of the techniques used in reality TV.

Listeners: Tamara Tracz Rebekah Maysles Sara Maysles

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Rebekah Maysles, daughter of Albert Maysles, is an artist living between New York and Philadelphia. She has her own line of clothing, Blackberryrose, and co-runs the store Sodafine in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York, a vintage and handmade store that sells clothing, books and other products made by artists.

Sara Maysles, daughter of Albert Maysles, is currently doing her BA in East Asian Studies at Columbia University, and working as an Archivist of the photographs and photographic material at Maysles Films Inc., Albert‚s film production company. She spent ten months out of two years working with Tibetan refugees at a center in Nepal, and continues to travel back and forth between America and Asia.

Tags: Germany, Hungary, Russia

Duration: 3 minutes, 47 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008