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City Hall

Frederick Wiseman, USA 2020, 272’
Be Water Coded Bias

Ninety-year-old Frederick Wiseman is a legendary filmmaker and one of America’s greatest documentarians. He specializes in portraits of public institutions, including the figures behind them and the mechanisms that govern them. The master of direct cinema returns to this subject in City Hall (with a running time of four and a half hours), which made its world premiere at this year’s festival in Venice. This time, Wiseman focuses on the city hall in his hometown of Boston, where the current mayor is a 53-year-old Democrat, Martin Walsh, a politician concerned about education, social equality, human rights, and the situation of immigrants; he’s also focused on direct contact with city residents. He says he is trying to implement a “democracy in action” project—for him, that’s what public service is all about. It seems that other employees and partners of Boston’s City Hall are also motivated by a similar idea, and Wiseman takes a look at their activities at various levels. His constant cinematographer, John Davey, silently records their everyday lives, fully conveying a reality that is observed in detail.

Magdalena Bartczak

Frederick Wiseman

Born in 1930, Frederick Wiseman is a legendary American director, editor, and film producer. He has also worked as a lawyer and as a lecturer at Boston University. He made his directorial debut in 1967 with the acclaimed documentary Titicut Folles, which takes place at a psychiatric clinic. Since then, he has made dozens of non-fiction films and has become one of the most important voices in American and world documentary filmmaking. He was awarded an Honorary Golden Lion in 2014 and an Honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 2017.

Selected filmography

1967 Titicut Follies (doc.)

1972 Essene (doc.)

1975 Welfare (doc.)

1986 Multi-Handicapped (doc.)

1989 Near Death (doc.)

1995 Ballet (doc.)

1999 Belfast Maine (doc.)

2002 The Last Letter (doc.)

2015 In Jackson Heights (doc.)

2018 Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (doc.)

Cast & Crew

director Frederick Wiseman
cinematography John Davey
editing Frederick Wiseman, Karen Konicek
sound Frederick Wiseman
producer Frederick Wiseman
production Zipporah Films, Puritan Films
sales Zipporah Films
language English
coloration colour
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