Handheld traces the life of my father Albert Maysles from his earliest silent film, Psychiatry in Russia (1955) to his forays into Jewish stories (Showman, Journey to Jerusalem, Vladimir Horowitz: The Last Romantic, Iris) to his most renowned works (Salesman, Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens), to his final digital project, In Transit (2015) completed just before he passed away. Handheld is neither a biopic nor a historical account of my father’s life. Rather, it is an unconventional portrait of a visionary artist—a father, a husband, a psychologist, a near lifelong New Yorker, a lover of trains and birds—through the portraits he made of other people. I see him as a fearless observer, a determined truth-teller shaped by the observant Jewish household in which he grew up, his empathy forged in response to his parents’ escape from pogroms in Eastern Europe. He was deeply entangled—visible even—in every image he shot. My father was drawn to this mode of storytelling because he wanted to capture—thoroughly, intimately—all kinds of people’s experiences. And it is for this reason that I am making a portrait of him, using his outtakes, home movies, well-known films, unfinished scenes, commercial work, never-before-seen footage, and collected commentary.
Rebekah Maysles - Director
Rebekah Maysles is a New York City based artist. For the past six years she has been the President of Maysles Films, Inc. founded by her father Albert and his brother David. She has focused on preserving the archive, generating international and educational distribution deals, and special projects. She collaborated with her father on the Emmy-nominated IRIS (2015)- one of his final films which premiered at the 52nd New York Film Festival. In 2009 she co-edited and illustrated the book Grey Gardens – filled with Maysles Films ephemera and many handmade illustrations. Rebekah is currently on the board of the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem which is dedicated to the exhibition and production of documentary films that inspire dialogue and action.
Laura Coxson - Producer
Laura Coxson is a New York City-based documentary producer who began her career at Maysles Films. Recent films include Midnight in Paris (2019), Chef Flynn (2018) which premiered at Sundance, and The Proposal (2018). Her film Iris (2015) premiered at the 2014 New York Film Festival and was released by Magnolia Pictures. She has done archival research/ producing for the shorts Bayard and Me (2017) and Graven Image (2017), as well as features Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes (2018), and Love, Gilda. Coxson produced The Love We Make (2012) with Paul McCartney for Showtime; Muhammad and Larry (2009) for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. She previously worked for Janus films, notably on the theatrical release of The Great Beauty (2013 Academy Award Winner- Foreign Language Film). In 2017, she was chosen to take part in the Impact Partners Producers Salon and in 2018 was invited to the Sundance Creative Producing Summit.