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Getting into filmmaking: training for making Psychiatry in Russia

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Getting into trouble in Russia
Albert Maysles Film-maker
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Getting back to this storytelling to my children of times when I got into trouble, some years ago, which is to say 1959, when two colleagues of mine, Pennebaker and Leacock and I were in Moscow filming Leonard Bernstein's performances, because I had already been to Russia five years- four years before, I was taken to be the expert and so when we talked one day of what we might do that might be unusual, I said let's- let's get on a train and get out of Moscow and just get to the- get off the train the first village that we come to and- Of course this was completely illegal. You could only be in, in Moscow. So we got on the train. We got off the train. And as we were walking through this little village we heard some conversation going on behind a gate. So I said let's see what's going on. So we opened the gate and it was a military barracks. And as we wandered in, it wasn't a moment had passed until, until we were brought to the Commanding Officer who was really quite disturbed that these Americans, who shouldn't be in this- outside of Moscow to begin with- are in his little fortress, right? And so he sat us down and was about to make calls that I think would have sent us back but with a bunch of soldiers accompanying us. But we were really in trouble. And during a moment of pause I suddenly pulled together what became a magic word- the word for please is [unclear]. And so I pronounced it as best I could and I offered my hand. As I said it we shook hands and, operating on the psychology that he was just as happy to get rid of us as we were to get the hell out of there, he put us on the next train and we got out of the trouble that we could have otherwise gotten into. We- the kids appreciated that story. When Ricky and Penny and I get together once in a while we tell ourselves and other people of the close scrap that we got into with the authorities.

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: Moscow, Russia, Richard Leacock, D A Pennebaker, Leonard Bernstein

Duration: 3 minutes, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008