The Maysles Documentary Center, a not for profit organization, is dedicated to the exhibition and production of documentary films. Through their cinema and education programs, the institute attempts to engage diverse communities in creative self-expression, communicating ideas and advocating needs.
The Cinema at the Maysles Documentary Center – the only independent film house north of Lincoln Center in Manhattan – is dedicated to the exhibition of documentary films, and it provides programming and forum discussions at least four nights out of every week. The Cinema is committed to a democratic experience, one where filmmakers are asked to attend the screenings of their work, and audiences have the opportunity to actively engage the films and each other in post-screening forums. Coupled with its scheduled series, the organization encourages the programming participation of local social and cultural organizations and citizen-activists to deepen community involvement and provide exposure for under-represented social issues and overlooked artists and their work.
The Maysles Center also offers year-round programming for youth and adults in the Harlem, Northern Manhattan and South Bronx communities. The goal of these programs is to enhance community storytelling and civic engagement by providing residents with specialized knowledge in documentary filmmaking and the technical tools they need to succeed.
Additionally, the Institute offers young people, ages 13-18, fun, engaging and holistic opportunities to create documentary films. Throughout the summer young people participate in an intensive six-week program where participants work in small production teams and learn how to shoot and edit short films under the guidance of film professionals. The summer program culminates in a citywide screening for family, friends and the film community. Throughout the school year, students who participate in the summer program, along with other young people from the wider community, are invited to work on individual film projects within the Institute.
The Maysles Center also designs, implements and facilitates a documentary filmmaking curriculum that aids students’ critical understandings of course material in Literature and the Humanities in Harlem area schools. The curriculum is designed to help students grasp concepts of narrative storytelling while fostering understandings of visual languages and political perspectives presented in various works. Students are equipped with an innovative framework through which to process contemporary literature and historic events, and ultimately analyze and respond to class material through the creation of short films.