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Maysles Cinema: Calendar / Master Class  

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Union Square Awards
and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
Master Class

The goal of the series Masterclass is to identify and survey exemplary careers in documentary production through an expansive lens.

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Past Master Class Screenings
February 2010

MASTER CLASS: William Miles
Wednesday, February 17th - Sunday, February 21st

In celebration of Black History Month, a retrospective of the great documentarian William Miles, chronicler of previously untold stories of the African-American experience.

Feb. 17,
7:30 pm

Men of Bronze
Dir. William Miles, 1977, 60 min.
Men of Bronze is the definitive story of black American soldiers of the 369th U.S. combat regiment, the 15th Infantry from New York, know as the "Harlem Hellfighters," who served with the French army in World War I. The film uses photographs, interviews with veterans, and film from the French and American national Archives to recount the saga of the "Harlem Hellfighters," offering an inspiring tribute to these unsung heroes and an unforgettable look at World War I.
Film trailer>

In Conversation: William Miles, editor Richard Adams, Warrington Hudlin (House Party producer whose grandfather fought in France in WWI) and General Nathaniel James of the 369th infantry..



Feb. 18,
7:30 pm

Dir. William Miles, 1992, 90 min.
The unknown story of African-American battalions, focusing on the heroic actions of the 761st, which spearheaded General Patton's third Army and helped liberate concentration camps in the second World War. This powerful film vividly records the experiences of the soldiers, who were utterly unprepared for the atrocities they witnessed, as well as the astonishment of the camp inmates - some of whom had never seen a black person before. Liberators bears witness to the courage of Holocaust survivors and the heroism of men who were forced to fight on two fronts - battling racism at home as they fought for their country overseas.

In Conversation: Filmmakers Nina Rosenblum & William Miles with Sergeant William McBurney, 761st Tank Battalion.

Feb. 19,
7:30 pm


I Remember Harlem
Dir. William Miles, 1980, 60 min.
[Full four-hour version to screen Sunday, Feb. 21]
A 60 minute, condensed version of this seminal four-hour series tracing Harlem's 350-year history, evoking one of America's most vibrant and volatile communities. As a visual counterpart to the oral histories in the film, Miles unearthed old photographs and motion picture films and newsreel footage, much of it rare and never before seen on television. In early 1982, one year after it was broadcast, I Remember Harlem won an Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia University Citation and an American Film Festival Award.

In Conversation: Filmmaker William Miles, Researcher Dr. Juanita Howard & Eric Tait Jr.

Sponsored by Sugar Hill Beer



Feb. 20


5:00 pm


Black Stars in Orbit
Dir. William Miles, 1990, 90 min.
This film takes a look at Black astronauts and black Americans' contributions to America's space program. Includes personal interviews with archival footage, family photographs, and news headlines to profile such individuals as Edward Dwight, Jr., Guion Bluford, Jr., Ronald McNair, Frederick Gregory, Patricia Cowings-Johnson and Robert Shurney.

7:00 pm  

The Black West
Dir. William Miles, 1993, 90 min.
The Black West, narrated by Danny Glover presents the story of African Americans in the U.S. west in the late nineteenth century.

In Conversation: Filmmakers Nina Rosenblum & William Miles & Writer Dennis Watlington.

Feb. 21,
2:00 pm

I Remember Harlem
Dir. William Miles, 1980, 240 min.
This seminal four-hour series traces Harlem's 350-year history, evoking one of America's most vibrant and volatile communities. As a visual counterpart to the oral histories in the film, Miles unearthed old photographs and motion picture films and newsreel footage, much of it rare and never before seen on television. In early 1982, one year after it was broadcast, I Remember Harlem won an Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia University Citation and an American Film Festival Award.

Screening Includes:
Part 1: The Early Years (1658-1930)
Part 2: The Depression Years
Part 3: Toward Freedom
Part 4: Toward a New Day



July 2010

Wednesday, June 9th - Saturday, June 12th
A Series Dedicated to a Major Contributor to the Documentary Film Tradition

John Mullen, Film Editor 1935-2008: From Trailers to Docs
Bumping and slapping moviolas like pinball machines....
     "John was a New Yorker and gifted cameraman who over four decades ago started cutting trailers to support an early marriage and family. Still a writer at Look Magazine I used to watch him on West 57th St., surrounded by bins of 35mm clips from the latest Hollywood costume drama. Having un-stitched the best efforts of top writers, editors and soundmen he now began to re-stitch them into 15-second TV teasers and more "leisurely" (his word) 30- and 60-second theater versions. The work was fast, physical and audible -- SLAM (lock in the latest from the cutting table), WHIRRR...BAM, stop, unlock, back to cut and tape. John would grunt, growl, mutter, the moviola his humble pinball machine...then smile or laugh when pleased, inviting me to take a peek. A year later I sat next to him at a rented moviola with a 16mm port in his own home as he worked nights and weekends on my own humble, linear story about a railroad train, liking what he saw but suggesting we shoot more. He became my partner and the result was a good film.
     No more un-stitching for John. Call him a mechanic or midwife he was now hooked on the goal of helping talented, courageous directors like the four women you will meet this week capture lightning in a bottle. Not always easy to work with he nevertheless respected a filmmaker's vision, undaunted by an infinity of ways to convey it. I believe he had total recall of images and sound plus the energy, literally, to cut and paste. Like all good editors he has been unsung because audiences don't notice the editing! But the judges and juries of over a dozen major film awards certainly did."
- Tom Barry, Film Director

June 9th

Last Train to Pittsfield

Beirut: The Last Home Movie

7:00 pm  

Last Train to Pittsfield
Dir. Tom Barry, 1976, 32 min.
Train enthusiast Tom Barry narrates as he and camera crew record a sad event in transportation history that would otherwise have gone unnoticed – the last passenger train ride from Danbury, CT to Pittsfield, MA. What begins as the nostalgic musings of a train fanatic as a rapidly changing country passes him by turns profound as Barry reflects more generally upon the decline in public transit with the growth in car culture and states its impact on both the environment and social interactivity. Co-filmmakers Tom Barry and John Mullen describe it best: "A film about a man crazy enough to ride last trains . . . and sane enough to want them back."

Followed by a conversation with writer/director Tom Barry.

8:00 pm  

Beirut: The Last Home Movie
Dir. Jennifer Fox, 1986, 120 min.
Beirut: The Last Home Movie chronicles three months in the life of an aristocratic Lebanese family who refuse to flee their family's palace located in a heavily-bombed Beirut neighborhood. The film takes us beyond the facts and statistics of nightly news reports into one family's experience of war. By capturing the visceral, subjective experience of a family living in war-torn Lebanon, Beirut: The Last Home Movie translates a baffling political crisis into its most human terms.

Followed by a conversation with director Jennifer Fox.

June 10th
7:00 pm


H-2 Worker
Dir. Stephanie Black, 1990, 70 min.
H-2 Worker is a controversial expose of the travesty of justice that takes place around the shores of Florida's Lake Okeechobee - a situation which, until the film's release, has been one of America's best-kept secrets. There, for six months a year, over 10,000 men from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands perform the brutal task of cutting sugar cane by hand-a job so dangerous and low-paying that Americans refuse to do it.

Followed by a conversation with director Stephanie Black.


June 10th
8:30 pm


Warrior: The Life of Leonard Peltier
Dir. Suzie Baer, 1992, 85 min.
Warrior is the true story of Leonard Peltier, the American Indian leader locked away for life, convicted of the alleged murder of two FBI agents during a bloody shootout on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975. The film follows Peltier's life from his childhood, to his membership in the American Indian Movement (AIM), the 1975 shoot-out on Pine Ridge and his odyssey through the American judicial system.

Followed by a conversation with director Suzie Baer.


Warrior: The Life of Leonard Peltier

June 11th
7:00 pm


Dir. Katharine Kean, 1997, 156 mins.
This award-winning film chronicles the political events and human tragedy surrounding the 1991 military coup d'etat in Haiti and the bloody dictatorship that followed. It presents a searing indictment not only of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's role in the turmoil, but also that of the powerful and reclusive Haitian bourgeoisie. Unlike the mainstream media, Rezistans does not portray the Haitian people as helpless victims. It focuses instead on their creative and courageous resistance, and the deep roots of that resistance in Haitian history and culture.

Followed by a conversation with director, Katharine Kean.


June 12th
7:00 pm


Life & Debt
Dir. Stephanie Black, 2001, 86 min.
Utilizing excerpts from the award-winning non-fiction text "A Small Place" by Jamaica Kincaid, Life & Debt is a woven tapestry of sequences focusing on the stories of individual Jamaicans whose strategies for survival and parameters of day-to-day existence are determined by the U.S. and other foreign economic agendas. Life & Debt addresses the impact of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and current globalization policies on a developing country such as Jamaica.

Followed by a conversation with director Stephanie Black.


June 12th
8:30 pm


The Mayor of Central Park
Dir. John Mullen, 2006, 63 min.
Alberto Arroyo, "pioneer of the jogging trend" and "Mayor of Central Park", narrates the story of a park, a city and a 90+ year lifetime from the jogging track around the Central Park Reservoir (named in his honor shortly after his passing in 2010). While battling cancer, native New Yorker John Mullen spent his time in Central Park creating this portrait of person and place, the only film he ever conceived, shot, edited and produced on his own. Two men make an imprint of their delight for everyday life and communion as they each face their own mortality with grace and humor.

Followed by two short memorial tributes to Alberto Arroyo and John Mullen, followed by a reception in celebration of the life and work of John Mullen. Wine generously provided by Judith Mullen.

  The Mayor of Central Park
MASTER CLASS: Eric V. Tait, Jr.
Wednesday, October 13th - Friday, October 15th

Eric V. Tait Jr's career as journalist (print, network and independent television), documentary filmmaker, media watchdog and advocate for excellence in journalism and documentary film, comprises a robust contribution to the documentary tradition, through his own work and the paths he created for others to follow. Wearing the hat of organizer and media activist, Mr. Tait crafted the panels that follow his films himself, placing greater concern for how his work can be employed in examining current social issues and the media's representation of them than receiving congratulations and praise for his 40 years in media. Mr. Tait says it best: "The goal is to use my 40th Anniversary Retrospective to take a good hard look at where we've been, what's been gained and/or lost, and what's now in store for all of us."


Oct. 13
7:30 pm


OUR WORLD-Fear & Frustration: Winter 1952
Dir. Eric V. Tait, Jr., 1987, 58 min.
An unpopular war (Korea), xenophobia, Communist witch-hunts, restrictive and still racist Immigration Laws and Policies... a riveting one hour look at a time when fear ruled in the USA; a time that unfortunately now seems to be repeating itself...

Panel Discussion:

Attorneys and Journalist-Filmmakers discuss Xenophobia in the US today: Islamophobia (e.g. the lower-Manhattan Mosque), the Patriot Act, racist immigration laws and policies, how it all affects Constitutional Rights and individual liberties, and the role of media in alerting the general public to possible dangers now, as it unfolds, NOT 35 years later.

PANELISTS: Attorneys Abdeen Jabara and Alison Berry; Educator Debbie Almontaser; Documentarian/Media Critics Danny Schechter and Eric V. Tait, Jr.; Michelle Materre (moderator).


Oct. 14
7:30 pm


Across The River with Hedrick Smith
Dir. Eric V. Tait, Jr., 1995, 57 min.
An uplifting look at the Anacostia section of Washington, DC and its modern struggle to break the yoke and legacy of the Slavery/Jim Crow system that Inner-City residents continually battle: from lack of economic opportunity and gentrification, to uncaring, discriminatory Policing and Criminal Justice practices.

Panel Discussion:

Activists, Elected Officials, and Journalist-Filmmakers discuss what's changed for the Inner City Residents, especially Harlemites since the mid-1990s: Gentrification, the NYPDs Stop & Frisk Program, Empowerment Zones-- who's really benefited in the past 15 years, and what's in our future? How's the story being told?

PANELISTS: Attorney Bonita Zelman; City Council Member, 8th District, Melissa Mark-Viverito; Filmmaker Duana Butler, Pearl Barkley; author and activist Herb Boyd (moderator).


Oct. 15
7:00 pm


Then I'll Be Free To Travel Home (Pt. 1)
Dir. Eric V. Tait, Jr., 2000, 90 min.
The last film that the legendary Lena Horne worked on, As Texas tries to propagate textbooks that re-write an even more exclusionary version of American History, and the Elmendorf Reformed Church, the oldest church in Harlem (est. 1660) battles to reclaim and restore it's 330-year old Colonial African Burial Ground -another chapter of that untold American History- we look at that history with a more in-depth and inclusive perspective.

Panel Discussion:

Educators, activists, elected officials and journalist-filmmakers discuss the state of public education, political power and education decisions, inclusive/non-inclusive American History (and the lack of mandated history/social studies curricula in NY State), Glen Beck and the Fox faux-news' attempts at usurping the Civil Rights movement, and other related highly crucial issues...

PANELISTS: NY1 anchor Cheryl Wills (moderator); Dr. Alan Singer, Department of Curriculum and Teaching, Hofstra University; Rev Patricia Singletary, Pastor of East Harlem's Elmendorf Church; educational consultant Gene Peterson; City Councilman Robert Jackson.

Followed by reception sponsored by Harlem's own Sugar Hill Ale.


July 2011
Steve James  
Curated by Sylvia Savadjian.

July 28th - 29th & August 4th

Steve James is the award-winning director, producer, and co-editor of Hoop Dreams, which won every major critics award as well as a Peabody and Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 1995. The film earned James the Directors Guild of America Award and the MTV Movie Award's "Best New Filmmaker." Recently, Hoop Dreams was selected for the Library of Congress' National Film Registry, signifying the film's enduring importance to American film history, and hailed by critic Roger Ebert as "the great American documentary." James' next documentary, Stevie, won major festival awards at Sundance, Amsterdam, Yamagata and Philadelphia, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. The acclaimed feature landed on a dozen "Top Ten Films of the Year" lists for 2003.

James was also an executive producer, story director, and co-editor of the PBS series, The New Americans, which won two Chicago International Television Festival Golden Hugos, and the prestigious 2004 International Documentary Association Award for Best Limited Series for Television. In 2005, James completed the documentary, Reel Paradise, his fourth film to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. James served as producer and editor of The War Tapes, a documentary comprised of video footage shot by American soldiers in Iraq. The film won the top prize at both the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, and the inaugural 2006 BritDoc Film Festival.

In 2008, he co-produced and co-directed with Peter Gilbert the acclaimed At the Death House Door, which won the top prize at the Atlanta Film Festival, the Inspiration Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, and aired on IFC-TV. At the Death House Door is James' fourth film to be officially short-listed for the Academy Award. James' 2010 documentary No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival and aired as part of ESPN Films' 2010 International Documentary Association award-winning series 30 for 30. The film was selected for the IDOCS International Documentary Forum in Beijing, and also played at the Cleveland, Full Frame, Dallas, Nashville and Atlanta film festivals, among others, as well as earning James the Best Director award at the Midwest Film Awards.

This year James will release his sixth film in partnership with Kartemquin Films, The Interrupters. Marking a return to some of the same Chicago neighborhoods featured in Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters investigates the stubborn persistence of violence in American cities. James co-produced the film with acclaimed writer Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here). The film is his fifth feature to be selected for the Sundance Film Festival, and after premiering theatrically this summer, will be broadcast on PBS FRONTLINE in late 2012.

James' dramatic films include the theatrical feature Prefontaine (1997), which premiered at Sundance, and cable movies Passing Glory (1999) and Joe and Max (2002), which was nominated for an ESPN Espy Award.
July 28th,
7:30 pm

Master Class: Steve James
Curated by Sylvia Savadjian.

No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson
Dir. Steve James, 2010, 80 min.
On February 13, 1993, 17-year-old Bethel High School basketball star Allen Iverson entered a Hampton, Virginia bowling alley with several classmates. It was supposed to be an ordinary evening, but it became a night that defined Iverson's young life: a quarrel soon erupted into a brawl pitting Iverson's young, black friends against a group of older white men. The fallout from the fight and the handling of the subsequent trial landed the nation's best high school athlete in jail and sharply divided the city along racial lines. Director Steve James returns to his hometown of Hampton, Virginia where he once played basketball, to take a personal look at this still disputed incident and examine its impact on Iverson and the community.

AFTER THE SCREENING: Q&A with director Steve James.


Master Class

July 29th,
7:30 pm

Master Class: Steve James
Curated by Sylvia Savadjian.

Hoop Dreams
Dir. Steve James, 1994, 176 min.
First shown at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the audience award for best documentary, Hoop Dreams is the remarkable true story of two American dreamers; an intimate reflection of contemporary American urban culture, following two ordinary young men on the courts of the game they love. Plucked from the streets and given the opportunity to attend a suburban prep school and play for a legendary high school coach, William Gates and Arthur Agee both soon discover that their dreams of NBA glory become obscured amid the intense pressures of academics, family life, economics and athletic competitiveness. While remaining epic in scope, Hoop Dreams manages to be intimate in detail, chronicling the universal process of growing up, coming of age, the love and conflict between fathers and sons, brothers, best friends and spouses. It's about success and failure not just on the court, but in school, at home, and ultimately, in society. And it does it in a way that no other film on sports has done before: it gives viewers an intimate look at the pursuit of the basketball dream while it is actually happening. "The best film of the 1990's" says Roger Ebert.


Master Class

August 2011
August 4th,
7:30 pm

Master Class: Steve James
Curated by Sylvia Savadjian.

At the Death House Door
Dir. Steve James and Peter Gilbert, 2008, 94 min.
At the Death House Door follows the remarkable career journey of Carroll Pickett, who served 15 years as the death house chaplain to the infamous "Walls" prison unit in Huntsville, Texas. During that time he presided over 95 executions, including the very first lethal injection done anywhere in the world. After each execution, Pickett recorded an audiotape account of that fateful day. The film also tells the story of Carlos De Luna, a convict whose execution affected Pickett more than any other. Pickett firmly believed the man was innocent and two Chicago Tribune reporters turn up evidence that strongly suggests he was right.


Master ClassAt the Death House Door

August 2011
One Week Theatrical Engagement!    
5th** - 6th &
8th - 11th
at 7:30pm
August 7th
at 4:00pm

Shown in Conjunction with Master Class: Steve James

The Interrupters

Dir. Steve James, 2011, 125 min.
Winner of the Special Jury Award at the Sheffield Doc/Fest, The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising stories of three "Violence Interrupters" who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. From acclaimed director Steve James and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here), this film is an unusually intimate journey into the stubborn persistence of violence in our cities. Shot over the course of a year out of Kartemquin Films, The Interrupters captures a period in Chicago when it became a national symbol for the violence in our cities. The city was besieged by high-profile incidents, most notably the brutal beating of Derrion Albert, a Chicago High School student, whose death was caught on videotape.
The film's main subjects, Ameena, Cobe and Eddie work for an innovative organization, CeaseFire, which believes that the spread of violence mimics the spread of infectious diseases, and so the treatment should be similar: go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source. The singular mission of the "Violence Interrupters"—who have credibility on the streets because of their own personal histories—is to intervene in conflicts before they explode into violence. The Interrupters follows these three "Violence Interrupters" as they go about their work, and while doing so reveals their own inspired journeys of hope and redemption. "A gut-wrenching documentary" says Manohla Dargis of The New York Times. A Cinema Guild release
Official film site>
Video interview with director Steve James>

**Friday August 5th: Followed by Q&A with Operation S.N.U.G.'s (modeled after Chicago's Ceasefire) Robin Holmes (Project Director of Operations), Karim Chapman (Outreach Worker Supervisor), Courtney Bennett (Community of Government Relations for The New York Mission Society), and local, Harlem based violence interrupters.


Mothers of Bedford

343 Malcolm X Boulevard / Lenox Avenue (between 127th and 128th Streets)

NYSCA logo   This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs,
in partnership with the City Council.