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Walter Goodman's reaction to Grey Gardens

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The sensitivity required in making documentaries
Albert Maysles Film-maker
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I think the one thing that comes up in the minds of the public and in the minds of many a documentary filmmaker too, is- just how far in the lives of a person do you go in filming them. Where- where you don't so- get so close to their vulnerabilities that that you begin to hurt them, that you should in fact stop filming. And both my brother and I were sensitive to that kind of problem. And so I can't remember anybody coming to us after the film was made, having seen it, and said well you shouldn't have filmed me, because we have been very careful. But at the same time a number of critics, in seeing a film of ours where we really do get to, to be in, in a realm of their profound- well, when we get to be very much into the personality of the person and, and so many a critic has felt that- oh, we've gone too far. And, and so when we made "Salesman" Walter Goodman, who was a distinguished reviewer for the New York Times, was very much offended that when we made- No, it wasn't "Salesman" that he was offended by, it was "Grey Gardens"; when we made that film which was of two women, a mother and a daughter- mother 80, daughter 60; two women who were eccentrics living in a decaying old mansion in East Hampton; two women, mother and daughter, who were the aunt and cousin of Jackie Onassis. We, we met these two women through Lee Radziwill, Jackie's sister, and right away when we met the daughter we could see that it was an interesting situation and one that we would want to film.

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: Rebekah Maysles Sara Maysles Tamara Tracz

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.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Tags: Salesma, nNew York Times, Grey Gardens, Walter Goodman, Jackie Onassis, Lee Radziwill

Duration: 2 minutes, 28 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008