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Finding the missing link in film and filming Salesman


Going to a Communist youth festival in Russia and winning a rug
Albert Maysles Film-maker
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The next year, 57, my brother and I thought that we'd do a similar sort of trip but this time with a- with a motor cycle. A bigger one. And we got to England and it was some holiday so we couldn't go to the motor cycle company to try to get a free motor cycle and so we went on to, to Germany, to Munich, to the BMW factory, and I remember- oh, they couldn't give us one but they were struck by the fact that such a trip would be good publicity for the motor cycle. And so they charged us only $300 for a motor cycle that must have been worth several thousand. At least now I think it's about $15,000 for such a vehicle. And anyway, off we went. This time we had no difficulty getting into the Soviet Union and it was very helpful that we had not only ordinary visas for Russia but it was at a time when there was a Communist Youth get-together. You didn't have to be a communist but it was sponsored by the Communist Party and they welcomed youths from all over the world. There were very, very few Americans that dared to defy the, the, the unofficial ban that the State Department put on going there. I mean, they'd still go but the State Department wasn't particularly keen on having Americans go there. So when we got to, to Hungary, because it brought- we had this Youth Festival thing in mind, you know, it made the- there was sort of a stamp of approval that got us through more easily. I remember- I remember when we got there, there were, of course, Russians from all over the Soviet Union there, and there was a party that they gave the American Delegation, which- I don't know, there were very few people. But a party where they, they gave a prize from each- from several of the Soviet Republics, and one of them was this beautiful Siberian rug which we won. And this fellow American, Larry Moyer who's become a great friend of mine over the years, and a very funny comic from, from Brooklyn, complete with the appropriate Brooklyn accent- when he saw that we got the rug, which had an inscription in Russian which of course none of us understood, Larry said- well, you see that inscription, you may have some difficulty when you get to the customs in America because the translation of it reads- and I'll translate it for you- it reads: thanks for the blueprints. And, of course, he was joking. To this day I don't know what it said. It could be- it could be that it said that but- for all I'd know.

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: Sara Maysles Tamara Tracz Rebekah Maysles

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.

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.

Tags: Germany, Munich, BMW, Soviet Union, Russia, Hungary, Brooklyn, Larry Moyer

Duration: 3 minutes, 53 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008