The Maysles Documentary Center, a not for profit organization, is dedicated to the exhibition and production of documentary films that inspire dialogue and action. Through our cinema and education programs we engage diverse communities in creative self-expression, communicating ideas and advocating needs.
MDC was founded by legendary filmmaker Albert Maysles (1926–2015) in 2005. He and wife Gillian Walker chose Harlem to contribute to this community's rich cultural history and aid in the facilitation of what is taken for granted below 96th street: consistent access to documentary films and conversation with filmmakers, the act of filmmaking, and engaging with films to make a difference. A 2013 recipient of the National Medal of Arts, among many other honors, Albert, along with brother David, was an early creator of direct cinema and among the first to capture life as it unfolded before their camera, without scripts, sets, or narration.
MDC's mission began with a summer education program for youth whose parents were incarcerated to encourage creative self-expression, holistic youth development and community building. Today, our low or no-cost education programs range from film literacy classes for children, filmmaking for high school students, intro and advanced filmmaking and editing for adults, and a cinema management job training program for Harlem residents. Maysles Cinema, at the MDC, is the only independent film house north of Lincoln Center devoted exclusively to documentary programming.