On the morning of September 11, 2001, Paul McCartney was in New York City on an airport runway waiting to fly to Britain. As he absorbed the news of the unfolding tragedy, he wondered, “What can I do?” The answer, of course, lay in music.
McCartney reached out to master documentarian and long-time friend Albert Maysles, inviting Maysles to document his personal experiences on 16mm black and white film, a format seldom used in the digital age but of proven endurance and artistic quality. Over several weeks in October 2001, Maysles’ camera followed McCartney as he prepared for The Concert for New York City, a benefit he helped organize to uplift New York City during this period of uncertainty and vulnerability. The footage went unseen for years, requiring the passage of time to be put in perspective. Now, ten years later, Maysles, his directing partner Bradley Kaplan and editor Ian Markiewicz have emerged with an intimate work that explores the role of art and artists in a time of crisis. –TIFF
With his brother David, Albert Maysles became one of the chief exponents of the “direct cinema” school of documentary filmmaking. The brothers began working as a team in 1957, each having previously been involved in film in very different ways—Albert making a documentary on Soviet mental institutions and David working as production assistant on two Marilyn Monroe movies. The Maysles brothers designed their own portable equipment to help in their goal of capturing the raw, spontaneous flow of experience, without intruding into the situations being filmed and were influenced by Robert Drew and Richard Leacock, with whom they had worked on “Primary” (1960).
Born and raised in Massachusetts, this son of Russian Jewish immigrants developed a childhood interest in photography. After receiving his MA in psychology, Maysles traveled to Russia and shot photographs inside mental hospitals. Although he was unsuccessful in selling those pictures, he did manage to obtain a movie camera from… read more