Anthology Film Archives is the place, the New York Documentary Film Festival - Festival dei Popoli is the event, and the dates are May 27-31. Mark your calendars now because this
five-day period is prime time for folk who care about the documentary form. The second annual event features everything from rarely seen works of Albert Maysles (whom the festival is celebrating in particular this year) to films by Agnes Varda, Alan Berliner and Volker Koepp, plus award-winning documentaries from Italy and some of the best examples of the past half-century from the archives of the Festival dei Popoli. (The complete 18-film program, with days and times, is here.)
The Festival dei Popoli, based in Florence, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and is devoted to promoting and studying social documentary cinema. In the last half-century, its collection has grown into, as the AFA calls it, "an unparalleled treasure of documentary films covering the history of non-fiction filmmaking. " If the seven examples I've been able to pre-screen are typical, there is some very fine work to be seen over these five days. Let's start with the short film that opens the program, and which the filmmaker himself will introduce: Albert Maysles (as seen several decades ago -- above left, front, with his late brother David -- and more currently, above right) and his rarely-seen, 28-minute delight, Meet Marlon Brando.
|What a surprise and a pleasure it is to see Mr. Brando looking so trim and fit (not to mention alive) as he "meets the press" (the entertainment press, that is) doing his version of the PR hustle for his 1965 film Morituri (from which the still, at right, is taken). The guy is witty, gracious, graceful, charming and ultra-handsome as he glad-hands one person after another -- without ever demeaning himself or doing the fawning PR thing. In fact, he makes consistent fun of this sort of activity, and Maysles lets us see (without ever commenting on anything) how Brando's honesty so surprises and puts off a press used to playing the typical tit-for-tat routine. Marlon's having none of this, and when he tells a very cute young reporter (actually, he does this to two or three of them) how beautiful he finds her, it's clear he wants to get into her pants and is going about it quite honestly but without undue pressure.|
What I was able to view constitutes but one-third of what's available in this festival, which was organized and produced by Fitzgerald Foundation of Florence and the Festival dei Popoli - International Documentary Film Festival, Florence -- in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute, Mediateca Regionale Toscana Film Commission, Regione Toscana, Toscana Promozione and Anthology Film Archives. In addition, it is being presented with the help of the Tribeca Film Institute-Reframe Collection and New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT).
Tickets for New York Documentary Film Festival - Festival dei Popoli 2009 are available at the Anthology Film Archives box office only: $9; $6 for AFA members and for NYWIFT members.
Location: 32 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10003
Subway directions: F or V to 2 Avenue-Lower East Side; B or D to Broadway–Lafayette; 6 to Bleecker Street.
The photo of Albert Maysles and that from Meet Marlon Brando,
courtesy of Maysles Films, Inc.
Remaining photos (except that from Morituri) courtesy of NYDFF-Festival dei Popoli.