The Thaw: Proto-verite in the Soviet Union

Presented with Red Channels and the Brecht Forum

Psychiatry in Russia

Dir. Albert Maysles, 1955, 14 min.

This rarely- screened film was the first professional film Albert Maysles made. While still teaching Psychiatry at Boston University Albert Maysles received a small amount of money to make this film in the Soviet Union. Entering the country for the first time, speaking almost no Russian, with very little money and no contacts in the Soviet Union Albert was still able to pull- off this excellent film. At his hotel he ran into the famous African- American journalist William Worthy Jr. who invited him to attend a cocktail at the Romanian Embassy. Albert managed to get into the cocktail party where he met some of the most important people in the Soviet Union including Mikhail Pervukhin, a high ranking official in the Soviet Politburo, who introduced him to the Soviet head of Psychiatry thus making this film possible. The movie in it's profiling of various asylums and mental institutions in the Soviet Union reveals as much about the ordinary man in Russia as it does about the so-called insane.


Letter from Siberia

Dir. Chris Marker, 1957, 57 min.

Letter from Siberia was Chris Marker's first feature and an unforgettable cinematic essay/travelogue on Siberia, communism, the Soviet Union, the role of film, the traveler as well as the immediacies of both time and place. The film foreshadowed Chris Marker's reflexive and experiemental approach to the documentary format which would both become hallmarks of his unique approach to cinema verite. This film is rich in both imagery and voice-over material where Chris Marker speaks through a voice that is not his own. "A work such as Letter From Siberia demonstrates that place can only ever be event. It is this identification and elucidation of the singularities of place, moment, memory, in a screen-based medium, that will be Marker's lasting legacy." - Adrian Miles, Senses of Cinema  


After the Screening: Panel Discussion with director Albert Maysles and special guest

Moderated by Matt Peterson

Presented in partnership with Red Channels and the Brecht Forum

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

1930's Bealian DOUBLE FEATURE:

3:00 pm

Blonde Venus

Dir. Josef von Sternberg (1932) 93 min.

Credited with making a star out of Marlene Dietrich, Josef von Sternberg's Blonde Venus is one of seven filmic collaborations between Sternberg and Dietrich. With his signature use of lighting and soft lens, Sternberg manages to glamorize  Dietrich-his muse-and Cary Grant in this trip across Depression America. Notable is a scene of Dietrich singing "Hot Voodoo" in a gorilla suit. 


5:00 pm

Imitation of Life

Dir. John M. Stahl (1934) 111 min.

Based on Fannie Hurst's 1933 novel of the same name, John Stahl's film version casts Claudette Colbert as the widowed Bea Pullman, who becomes  businesswoman extraordinaire with the assistance of her black friend Delilah (Louise Beavers). From The New York Times, which called it "the most shameless tearjerker of the Fall," and wrote, "The stentorian sobbing of the ladies in the Roxy mezzanine yesterday seemed to suggest that it held a vast appeal for the matinee trade as well as for Miss Hurst's large and commercially attractive public. On the whole the audience seemed to find it a gripping and powerful if slightly diffuse drama which discussed the mother love question, the race question, the business woman question, the mother and daughter question and the love renunciation question." Warren Williams and Rochelle Hudson also star in the film.


7:30 pm

Dir. Robert Drew (1960) 60 min. 

Shot by Richard Leacock and Albert Maysles and edited by D.A. Pennebaker, Primary is considered a milestone in the direct cinema movement in America and a harbinger of the contemporary video reporting that would come. With their use of mobile cameras and light equipment, Leacock and Maysleswere able to achieve a level of intimacy with the film's  subjects unseen in earlier documentaries, often burdened by the big apparatus of film. The film covers the 1960 Wisconsin Primary election between John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey for the Democratic Party nomination for President, with stunning black and white close-ups of both candidates on the road while campaigning, which speak for themselves.

Followed by a discussion with Filmmaker Albert Maysles

Staunch: A Grey Gardens Festival

Grey Gardens

Dir. Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Ellen Hovde & Muffie Meyer (1976) 94 min.

Meet Big and Little Edie Beale—high-society dropouts, mother and daughter, reclusive cousins of Jackie O.—thriving together amid the decay and disorder of their ramshackle East Hampton mansion. An impossibly intimate portrait and an eerie echo of the Kennedy Camelot, Albert and David Maysles’s 1976 Grey Gardens quickly became a cult classic and established Little Edie as a fashion icon and philosopher queen. The film and the Beales themselves have since inspired fashion lines, songs, a broadway musical, several off-broadway shows, and a 2009 HBO film.

Followed by a panel discussion with Albert Maysles, Lucy Barzun Donnelly (Executive Producer, HBO's Grey Gardens).