Albert Maysles, director of Iris

Albert Maysles penultimate film ‘Iris’ tells the story of fashion icon Iris Apfel. Not only a story about fashion and style, title character Iris Apfel inspires viewers to live life to the fullest. In creating this film, Maysles assists Iris Apfel in sharing with viewers her passion for life, color, fun, and her own fashion philosophy: ‘It’s better to be happy than well-dressed.’

Albert Maysles was born on November 26, 1926 in Boston, Massachusetts. Though he is now known as a documentary film legend, Maysles actually started out as a professor of psychology at the prestigious Boston University. This all changed in the summer of 1955 when Maysles took a 16 mm camera to Russia to film psyche ward patients.  The result of his filming was unexpected, ‘Psychiatry in Russia’ became a huge success and Maysles began his career as a filmmaker.

After ‘Psychiatry in Russia,’ Maysles found success in his cult classic films such as ‘Gimme Shelter’ (1970) and ‘Grey Gardens’ (1975).

In the groundbreaking documentary film ‘Gimme Shelter,’ Maysles takes us on the infamous 1969 Rolling Stones tour. The film takes a sharp look at the tragic concert in Altamont where the organizers of the concert hired Hells Angels to act as security around the main stage, which resulted in the death of an audience member. The footage of the concert depicts all of the violence displayed by Hells Angels, the dazed audience members, and attempts by the band to intervene as well as their live performances.

The film ‘Grey Gardens’ became an instant cult classic and huge hit when it was released in 1975. This documentary tells the story of Edith Beale and her daughter Edith ‘Little Edie’ Beale, the reclusive aunt and cousin of Jackie Onassis. Maysles took his viewers on an intimate journey through the odd and transformative lives of these two fallen socialites from within their own deteriorating home. 

Albert Maysles died on March 5, 2015 in New York. Maysles was an innovator in film and one of the first to bring ‘cinema verite’ to America. At the time of his first documentaries, the concept of using reality in both film and television was unheard of. Maysles made films that showed life as it was happening, unscripted and unbiased. The films depicted life unfolding with truth and without interference.

There is no doubt that Albert Maysles will forever be remembered for his pioneering direct cinema and groundbreaking cinematic techniques. Albert Maysles’ legacy is that of a man striving to truthfully depict human life which will forever live on through his films.