By Joe McElhaney
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Extra info for Albert Maysles
Far from gaining nothing in being a camera subject, for Maysles being filmed is a type of therapy in which one feels better about oneself afterward, since being filmed is recognition. “I’m all for filming incompetent people,” Maysles told Pryluck. “They’re the ones who need it the most” (Pryluck, “Seeking” 12). In Shirley Clarke’s film Portrait of Jason (1967), Clarke’s subject, Jason Holliday, states this position from the point of view of the subject rather than the filmmaker: “You know, it’s a funny feelin’ having a picture made about you.
One can find such a structure even in a comparatively minor Maysles film such as Accent on the Offbeat (1994, in collaboration with Froemke and Dickson), detailing the production of a ballet staged by Peter Martins to a score by Wynton Marsalis. The film is shaped by a set of schematic conflicts and oppositions: between the jazz world of Marsalis and the ballet world of Martins; between the world of popular culture and the world of “elite” culture; between music and dance; between black culture and white culture.
Rather than fulfilling the utopian fantasies of the prewar period and allowing for greater freedom and flexibility in work, the developments in industrialization after the war frustrated and limited economic satisfaction for the worker who, most often laboring within politically conservative or repressive regimes, felt trapped. “I think the tragedy of our times is that hardly anyone chooses his job,” says one of the subjects of Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s Chronicle of a Summer (1961). ” Within the school of direct cinema, Wiseman has treated the subject of work the most extensively, situating it within corporations and institutions in which workers find themselves absorbed into a structure where resistance is presented as a virtual impossibility.
Albert Maysles by Joe McElhaney