Documentary film legend Albert Maysles special guest at Karlovy Vary

Albert Maysles, photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

One of this year's special guests at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is Albert Maysles, a legend in the world of documentary film making. As well as capturing the lives of 'ordinary' people, he has - at very close quarters - caught the likes of John F Kennedy, Fidel Castro, the Beatles and Muhammad Ali with his handheld camera. Mr Maysles, who is now 77, said it was gratifying that his work - some of it from the early 1960s - was still finding an appreciative audience today.

"I enjoy it very much, if only for the fact that each time it's shown - especially here at Karlovy Vary - the audiences are so full. There are so many people who are enthusiastic to see my films. Each one of my films - every seat has been taken. And especially after the film has been shown, in the question and answer period, I can understand they really understood the message."

Some of you better known films are rock films, like the Beatles' first trip to America in 1964 and the Rolling Stones 'Gimme Shelter'. Are you surprised how much longevity those films have?

Beatles,  photo:
"I was very lucky; those two music groups are still the best."

The eternal question - who was your favourite Beatle?

"Oh...I would say, as would most people, I think, John Lennon. If only for the fact that John Lennon lived in the same building as I do [the Dakota Building, Manhattan]. So even after the film we used to get together every once in a while.

"And in fact a year ago I got a call from Yoko Ono, saying she celebrating her birthday and would I like to come. I said yeah, I'd like to bring my video camera. She said OK, that'll be my birthday present. So I occasionally get together with her as well."

Radio Prague listeners will be interested to know about your travels through Czechoslovakia in the 1950s - you mentioned that during the news conference just now.

"I remember among other things I was passing over the Charles Bridge, somebody from television caught sight of me. I was the only one on a motor scooter in the whole of Czechoslovakia. So being so curious, they brought me to the TV station. They spent a lot of time with me on camera, on television.

"Also people I found to be so kind, at that point. I remember, just before coming to Prague, it was approaching evening and I was passing through this little town called Kutna Hora. People were coming out of the theatre and I met somebody coming out of the theatre and the volunteered to put me up for evening.

"The next year when my brother and I passed through the town and it was time to retire, I remember going again to the same people, this time directly to their home. And I knocked on the window and one of the members of the family came to the window and recognised me and invited me in. And this time it was my brother and myself who stayed over."

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