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Autobiographical elements to the films


The common humanity of documentaries
Albert Maysles Film-maker
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I remember a woman calling me up one day and saying that she needed three tapes of the film that she wanted to buy, but the stores had run out of the film and so she was asking me if she could purchase one from my company. I said- well, come right over; we have, we have several tapes. And no sooner had she come to visit to make a purchase but then she began to tell about how this film has been so important to her. She'd seen the film 200 times and she'd given the film away to some 80 odd people, and there were three more, right? But that was about a year ago. Six months later I got a call from her on another subject and the number of 200 had gone up to 206. But that of course is very unusual. But there's a famous designer of clothes who has stated many times that he's got so many ideas from the daughter, from seeing that film- ideas of fashion- that it's every two or three months that he takes another look at the film. We don't, in our society, give enough credit to people who are ordinary people, who are outside of our own narrow confines of our- of our friendships. And, and I'm hoping that whatever else our films do, that they broaden our view of humanity and, as Margaret Mead put it in a lecture that I attended, she said- the greatest need in the world is to develop a sense of common humanity. And so each one of our films and each good documentary, I think, serves the purpose of bringing one person closer to another. And, and in the case of the film being shown on television or DVD or the internet, you know, it means that millions of people will make that connection. And furthermore I think that, in a very important way, I think that a nation remains only a piece of geography to the extent that one citizen is not aware of the life of another and a documentary, because it, it presents people in their, in their lives as they experiencing it, see that person and you're in that other person's shoes for that time and if it's a really good film you'll never forget that person. So that as films- so that as films explore the lives of one person after another, you know, we get to know each other and we build that kind of connection with one another whereby we can think- yeah, yeah, I'm an American, and furthermore- And if only we would do so- more so- import documentaries from other countries, right? As we see people from other countries we become that much more citizens of the world. It's, it's a beautiful thing that, that we can do and I feel that it's, that it's a terrible thing when people remain isolated from other good people that they would otherwise become friends with and sympathize- empathize- in short, love one another; through feeling what it is to be in another person's shoes.

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 Tamara Tracz Sara Maysles

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.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

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: film, documentary

Duration: 4 minutes, 29 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008