Virginia Film Society Presents 'Direct Cinema' Filmmaking Pioneer Albert Maysles in Two Nights of Screenings

October 05, 2007
Oct. 5, 2007 -- Pioneer "direct cinema" filmmaker Albert Maysles created some of 20th century's groundbreaking documentaries with his late brother David. They were the first to make nonfiction feature films ("Gimme Shelter," "Salesman," "Grey Gardens"), where the drama of life unfolds as is without scripts, sets, interviews or narration. His 36 films include "What's Happening! The Beatles in the USA" (1964), and six films on public art projects by Christo and Jeanne-Claude (1972 to 2007). In 1999, Eastman Kodak saluted him as one of the 100 finest cinematographers in the world.

On Oct. 10 and 11 at  Vinegar Hill Theatre, the Virginia Film Society presents "Kin Flicks of the Brothers Maysles," the third offering in the society's fall schedule. The programs are a special prelude event to the 20th annual Virginia Film Festival, whose theme is Kin Flicks, coming Nov. 1-4. During the festival, there will be a special free midnight screening on Nov. 3 of the Maysles Brothers’ “Grey Gardens” at the Gravity Lounge.

"We decided that the Maysles deserve a mini-festival of their own, and so we’re thrilled that Al Maysles agreed to present and talk about a wide range of their films over two nights,” Virginia Film Festival director Richard Herskowitz said.

For the Oct. 10 screening, Maysles will narrate films "From The Archives of the Brothers Maysles." The retrospective, with rare clips from the Maysles brothers’ entire career, will be shown at Vinegar Hill Theatre at 7 p.m. Maysles will present work spanning from the 195Os to a sneak peek at his current projects. Featuring rarely and never screened footage from classic films like "Gimme Shelter" and "Grey Gardens," to outtakes from his short film portraits of Marlon Brando, Truman Capote, Salvador Dali, The Beatles, and Muhammad Ali, , "this screening is a must for any documentary fan," Herskowitz said.

In the Oct. 11 event, to be held beginning at 7 p.m. at Vinegar Hill, photographer William Christenberry will join Maysles for a screening and discussion of Maysles’ award-winning "LaLee’s Kin." Christenberry is in Charlottesville preparing for the opening of his exhibition “William Christenberry: Site/Possession,” at the U.Va. Art Museum from Oct. 19 – Dec. 23.

The film explores the legacy of generations of African-Americans who toiled in the cotton industry in the Mississippi Delta — a hardscrabble life of poverty and virtual illiteracy. LaLee Wallace, a former cotton picker retired on disability, is a great-grandmother struggling to support and encourage her family, while Reggie Barnes, a crusading superintendent, strives to save the failing West Tallahatchie school system from takeover by the state. “'LaLee's Kin' adheres to the rigorous and sober-minded Maysles  tradition of presenting things as they are without editorializing. The balance between feeling and distance is never a contradiction here but, rather, the dynamic that makes this film an especially humanistic entry in the Maysles canon," wrote Robert Koehler in Daily Variety in 2007.

All Virginia Film Society events are co-sponsored by the Virginia Film Festival and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Admission is $9 to the public and free to Film Society members. Individual admission tickets may be purchased 30 minutes before the screening at the venue box office, when seats are available.

For information on membership in the Virginia Film Society, to download an application form or to view the full fall season schedule, visit