Mission Statement

The Maysles Documentary Center, a not for profit organization, is dedicated to the exhibition and production of documentary films that inspire dialogue and action. Through our cinema and education programs we engage diverse communities in creative self-expression, communicating ideas and advocating needs.

THE CINEMA
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, we encourage 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. We have forged partnerships with organizations as diverse as The National Black Programming Consortium, the New Museum, and the Harlem Historic Parks Association, to name a few. Our suggested-donation ticket model allows for everyone to engage in our programming, regardless of his or her ability to pay. As a result of steady growth in attendance we have recently added capacity to accommodate our frequent overflow audiences.

MEDIA IN ACTION: EDUCATION PROGRAMS
We offer diverse, year-round programming for youth and adults in Harlem, Northern Manhattan, and South Bronx communities. Our goal 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.

After-School & Summer Programs
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.

Inside the Classroom
We design, implement, and facilitate 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.

The Filmmaker’s Collaborative for Adults
The Documentary Center recognizes that there are many adults who are eager to become filmmakers, and perhaps continue to work on film projects that have come to rest with time. We offer adults a 16-week rigorous documentary filmmaking course. Here, participants work on a personal production guide that includes a narrative treatment, storyboard, film budget, and a trailer of their film.

Our first commitment is to serve the Harlem community in which we work, though we also partner with various cultural and geographic communities in the New York City area.