Albert Maysles: Joyride

The Legendary Documentarian Switches Gears For the Bicycle Film Festival

Cinéma verité pioneer Albert Maysles is known for seminal documentaries such as Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter; less publicized, perhaps, is his romance with cycling. Photographer Stefan Ruiz shot the director amidst his personal memorabilia at the Maysles Institute in Harlem in the run-up to this year’s Bicycle Film Festival, where he will show a collection of photographs as part of Joyride, an exhibition co-curated by festival founder Brendt Barbur and the filmmaker’s artist daughter Rebekah Maysles. Depicting a Moscow bicycle factory, the photo series was shot in 1955 during the filming of Maysles’s debut feature, Psychiatry in Russia. But he traces the cycling muse back to a post-collegiate trip from Boston to Quebec City: "I didn't have a bicycle and I didn’t have any money. I went to a shop, and they said, 'We have a bicycle made by the Rivington Arms company dated 1896. It has wooden rims, it has two speeds, it's made of steel, and it's yours for five dollars.' So off I went,” he recalls. It was at the Maysles Institute, a small movie theater and workshop which fosters community through documentary films, that Maysles and Barbur cemented their collaborative relationship; Barbur consulted on a series about cycling. Now in its eleventh year, the Bicycle Film Festival has lured the likes of Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry and Mike Mills for an annual five-day multimedia tribute to everything two-wheeled, and kicks off today in New York before embarking on a worldwide tour.

To read an anecdote from Barbur on the festival's diverse appeal and to see more images from the shoot visit our Facebook page here.


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