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