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Counteracting racism


Experiences working on When We Were Kings
Albert Maysles Film-maker
Comments (1) Please sign in or register to add comments
Tuesday, 30 October 2012 03:40 PM
Great video!
Well, so many of us have seen the film 'When We Were Kings' where Muhammad Ali's fight in Zaire in Africa, and I was asked to go to do some filming. And so I went. And right away I noticed that all these black Americans who were there for the event, many of them musicians, were having a hard time of it because somehow they felt so uncomfortable that they were disappointed in coming back to what was their home really wasn't because American culture is- that's their life and the local life they had no familiarity with, and especially when the musicians performed to an empty audience who couldn't connect, really, with this American music. People like BB King, for example, whom I filmed onstage; and when he got back to his dressing room he just about collapsed out of depression; that there was no one there to watch and listen to him and that he was really not a native son any more but a foreigner in his own country, so to speak. And this is something that I kept finding and, and filming. But, but that sort of thing never got into the film; I think not because of the man who was responsible for producing it but for the fact that Don King, who was the Executive Producer, I believe, that was paying for the whole thing, wanted to be much more positive view of the, of the experience. And anyway the producer was kind enough to put my name as the first credit of the cinematographers- and there were quite a few of them- but none of my footage that I shot is in the film. And- but he was kind enough to give me a two hour sampling of what he saw and what he'd loved so much.

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: When We Were Kings, Zaire, Africa, Muhammad Ali, BB King, Don King

Duration: 2 minutes, 21 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2004

Date story went live: 29 September 2010