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Albert Maysles and his brother David (who died in 1987), who are best known for such films as Salesman, Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter, began filming THE GATES in 1979, when internationally acclaimed artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude began actively pushing their installation project forward with the New York City government. The Maysles captured the emerging controversy at community board hearings that pitted neighbor against neighbor over the appropriate use of Central Park. While Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s artistic vision sought to unite all of New York City, the public reaction was accusations of publicly financed defacement of a masterpiece, akin to putting a mustache on the Mona Lisa at tax payers’ expense. The proposal was denied. Twenty-four years later, after 9/11 and the election of art patron Michael Bloomberg as mayor, the project was approved in January, 2003. The subsequent film, brought to fruition by Antonio Ferrera and co-directed with Albert Maysles, chronicles the evolution of The Gates from concept to installation, ultimately overcoming public disapproval and transforming Central Park into a visual symphony of color, light, joy and beauty at an eventual cost to Christo and Jeanne-Claude of $21 million. The event, which brought over 4 million visitors from around the world to Central Park in mid-winter, is lovingly captured in this masterful film which ultimately asks the question: What is the role of art today?
Runtime: 98 minutes