Born in Boston of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Albert Maysles received his B.A. at Syracuse and his M.A. at Boston University where he taught Psychology for three years. He made the transition from Psychology to film in the summer of 1955 by taking a 16mm camera to Russia to film patients at several mental hospitals. The result, Psychiatry in Russia, was Albert’s first foray into filmmaking. Several years later, the Maysles brothers made a motorcycle journey from Munich to Moscow and along the way shot their first collaborative film on the Polish student revolution.
With their fine-tuned sense of the scene-behind-the-scene, the Maysles brothers made Meet Marlon Brando (1965) and With Love From Truman (1966). Then they came out with the landmark non-fiction feature film Salesman (1968), a portrait of four door-to-door Bible salesmen from Boston. It won an award from the National Society of Film Critics and is regarded as the classic American documentary.
Albert was made a Guggenheim Fellow in 1965. His next three films became cult classics. Salesman (1968), Gimme Shelter (1970) is the dazzling portrait of Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones on their American tour which culminated in a killing at the notorious concert at Altamont. Grey Gardens (1976) captures on film the haunting relationship of the Beales, a mother and daughter living secluded in a decaying East Hampton mansion. These films were released theatrically to great acclaim.
Maysles Films Inc. has produced many films on art and artists, including a long-standing collaboration of celebrated artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, whose monumental environmental projects were documented in Academy Award-nominated Christo's Valley Curtain (1974), Running Fence (1978), Islands (1986), Christo in Paris (1990), and Umbrellas (1995).
He made several films working with Susan Froemke and Deborah Dickson. For example the HBO commissioned project Lalee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton, a story of one family's struggle to break free from the cycles of poverty and illiteracy in the Mississippi Delta. In 2001 Lalee's Kin was nominated for an Academy Award and received Sundance Film Festival 2001 Cinematography Award for Documentaries.
In 1994, the International Documentary Association presented Albert with their Career Achievement Award. He has received S.M.P.T.E.’s 1997 John Grierson Award for Documentary, the American Society of Cinematographers’ 1998 President’s Award - given for the first time to a documentarian. In 2005 he founded the Maysles Institute, a nonprofit organization that provides training and apprenticeships to underprivileged individuals. Albert is a patron of Shooting People, a filmmakers' community.
What's Happening! The Beatles in the USA (81´, USA, 1964)
Meet Marlon Brando (28´, USA, 1965)
With Love From Truman (29´, USA, 1966)
Salesman (85´, USA, 1968)
Gimme Shelter (91´, USA, 1970)
Grey Gardens (100´, USA, 1976)
Christo's Valley Curtain (28´, USA, 1974)
Running Fence (58´, USA, 1978)
Vladimir Horowitz: The Last Romantic (88´, USA, 1985)
Christo in Paris (58´, USA, 1990)
Abortion: Desperate Choices (67´, USA, 1992)
Umbrellas (81´, USA, 1995)
Letting Go: A Hospice Journey (90´, USA, 1996)
Concert of the Wills: Making the Getty Center (100´, USA, 1997)
Lalee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton (89´, USA, 2001)
The Beales of Grey Gardens (90´, USA, 2006)