When Albert Maysles pitched his idea for a documentary self-portrait titled Hand-Held and from the Heart at the co-financing Forum in Amsterdam last November, the commissioning editors perched at the pitch table, like so many doc devotees around the world, were eager to surrender their cash for the chance to screen his film. Moderator Jess Search, formerly of the U.K.’s Channel 4, even promised to put in a good word with C4 doc boss Peter Dale provided the dean of docs (as Maysles was once dubbed by The New York Times) revealed where he buys his trademark eyeglasses. ‘If you do that,’ Maysles quipped back, ‘you can have my spare pair.’ Two weeks later, the glasses arrived in the mail, and Search has been snapping pics of people in the familiar black specs ever since.
Hand-Held celebrates Maysles’ 50 years as a filmmaker – from Psychiatry in Russia, his 1955 film that led him away from a career in psychology, through Salesman, Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens, Lalee’s Kin and up to his present-day projects. To celebrate the anniversary, RealScreen and Search reveal the transformational powers of his frames. We can see clearly now, Mr. Maysles – thanks for sharing your vision.