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The festival, not to be confused with The New York Documentary Center's International Documentary Festival, is organized and produced by The Fitzgerald Foundation of Florence in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Festival dei Popoli, also of Florence, Italy. The half-century-old Italian festival was founded out of a devotion for "promoting and studying social documentary cinema," and has established itself as a gold leaf benchmark in archival films.
The cornerstone of this year's event is a program to honor the New York's own documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles. Maysles, born in Boston but adopted by the Big Apple decades ago, will be on hand to open the event with a screening of the 1965 film Meet Marlon Brando, which was made with his brother, David Maysles, while documenting a one-day marathon of interviews with Brando as publicity ahead of the feature film Morituri.
|Albert Maysles and his subject, from Meet Marlon Brando.|
Of special note for those who follow the topics near and dear to the LAS heart, in their two decades working together Albert and David Maysles constructed a number of pieces on the work of the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude (who we have covered with not one but two features), including Christo's Valley Curtain (1974, with Ellen Hovde), Running Fence (1978) and Islands (1986), both with Charlotte Zwerin, and Christo in Paris, (1990, with Deborah Dickson and Susan Froemke).
Throughout his career, both in the nearly three-dozen works done in collaboration with his sibling, as well as his individual projects, Maysles has created a reputation of monumental stature within the school of documentarians; iconic director Jean-Luc Godard apparently once called him "the best American cameraman," and last month his most recent film, The Gates, another Christo-related documentary, was recognized with a 2009 Peabody Award. Next month in Washington Maysles will be honored at this year's AFI Discovery Channel SILVERDOCS Festival as well.
Perhaps as much an indication of our times as any, Maysles has been e-canonized with an ongoing photographic tribute website, Albert Maysles Glasses. "Having been the proud owner of Al Maysles glasses for a few weeks, I can tell you that there is something really really unusual about these frames," says Shooting People co-founder and Maysles admirer Jess Search, who started the site. "Everyone who puts them on is totally transformed."
Another of the festival's programs centers on "Italian Chronicles," a selection of films from three award-winning Italian directors, Alina Marazzi, Leonardo di Costanzo, and Bruno Oliviero. The six documentary pieces assembled for the festival program "offer a panorama of everyday life in Italy from the 1970s to the present."
Di Costanzo and Oliviero will make personal appearances on Thursday the 28th; the directors will appear together for a screening of the hour-long 2006 documentary Odessa, with Oliviero returning later in the evening for a showing of last year's Napoli piazza Municipio. The following night the group New York Women in Film & Television will host Alina Marazzi for a back-to-back showing of her films For One More Hour with You and We Want Roses Too, the former being "a portrait of 's mother, who committed suicide when the filmmaker was seven years old," and the latter a heavy sounding attempt to "revisit the history of women from the mid-Sixties to the late-Seventies and put it in context with our conflicted and contradictory present."
|A scene from Robert Gardner's 1964 film Dead Birds.|
A pan-cultural and celebratory mood colors the third leg on the 2009 festival's cinematic tripod, with a schedule of films highlighting the diversity of not only origins and subject matter, but also concept and length. From the poetic to the political, the films in the "50th!" program represent "a selection of nine of the best documentaries of the last 50 years" and include archival and contemporary features from American directors Alan Berliner and Robert Gardner, France's Agnes Varda, and Germany's Volker Koepp, as well as shorter pieces by Latvian director Herz Frank, Soviet filmmaker Artavazd Pelechian, Lithuanian Audrius Stonys, Kazakhstani Sergei Dvortsevoj, and American Beatrice Gibson.
The festival's closing night will cap the event with a screening of Psychiatry in Russia, a 14-minute 16mm Maysles documentary from 1955, and the half-hour Maysles piece With Love from Truman, from a 1966 Newsweek interview with Truman Capote.
Tickets for New York Documentary Film Festival - Festival dei Popoli 2009 are available at the Anthology Film Archives box office for $9, with a discounted price of $6 for AFA and New York Women in Film & Television members. We will be running a recap of the festival on June 4th.
VIDEO: Psychiatry in Russia SEE ALSO: www.nydff.org
SEE ALSO: www.festivaldeipopoli.org/en/
SEE ALSO: www.anthologyfilmarchives.org
Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.
See other articles by Eric J Herboth.
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