The Thaw: Proto-verite in the Soviet Union

Presented with Red Channels and the Brecht Forum

Russian Close-Up

Dir. Albert Maysles, 1957, 33 min.

Albert and David Maysles managed to buy their BMW motorcycle for only 300 dollars in Germany and travel across Eastern Europe into Russia. The brothers were helped in large part by the fact that they were (officially at least) going to attend the communist youth festival in Hungary. When they got there they were some of the very few Americans that were present. This film is a document of that adventure as well as a visual diary of the places and faces encountered by Albert and David along this cross-country motorcycle ride through the former Soviet Union. Since Russian Close-Up is a silent film Albert Maysles will provide a taped audio commentary recorded especially for this screening.


Opening in Moscow

Dir. DA Pennebaker, Shirley Clarke, Albert Maysles, 1959, 45 min.

In 1959 Richard Leacock, Albert Maysles, Shirley Clark and DA Pennebaker were all in Moscow where they made this film. This movie is an impressionistic look at Kruschev's Russia centered around the opening of the american exhibition in Moscow at the 1959 world fair. T In observing Russian people observing Americans play acting the role of the average U.S. citizen at the exhibition, the film documents a curious inversion where it is American lifestyle that signifies the exotic culture that is then presented and exhibited to spectators instead of the other way around. The film cleverly cuts between shots of the spectacle of the American exhibition and shots of Moscow and its people going about their daily lives thus making a statement about the differences and similarities between Russian and American working class life during this crucial period.


After the Screening: Panel Discussion with director DA Pennebaker and special guest

Moderated by Malek Rasamny

Presented in Partnership with Red Channels and the Brecht Forum