Albert Maysles, who was one of the first documentary filmmakers to use hand-held cameras to spontaneously record the lives of both the famous and the unknown, has died. He was 88.
In a statement, Maysles’ family said the director passed away after a brief battle with cancer at his New York home Thursday night.
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Maysles was best known for a handful of documentary classics he made with his brother David in the sixties and the seventies. The Maysles Brothers, as they were often referred to, chose subjects as common as the travails of Bible salespeople and as glamorous as Marlon Brando, Orson Welles and the Beatles, whom the pair followed in 1964 during their first trip to the United States.
One of their films, “Gimme Shelter,” about The Rolling Stones’ disastrous Altamont Speedway concert on December 6th, 1969, captured the killing of a fan and the precipitous end of the hippie era on film. The Altamont concert was the Stones’s calamitous attempt at staging their own Woodstock.
Maysles was working right up to this death. His documentary of the fashion icon Iris Apfel, “Iris,” is to be released in April. Earlier this week, the Tribeca Film Festival announced that “In Transit,” a documentary he co-directed about the longest train route in the U.S., will premiere at this year’s festival.