Monday, January 12, 2015

Filmmaker Frederick Wiseman coming to the Cinematheque

[Press release from the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Frederick Wiseman, the dean of America’s documentary filmmakers, is coming to the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque on Sunday, January 25, at 1:00 pm for a program entitled AN AFTERNOON WITH FREDERICK WISEMAN. The legendary moviemaker, who has directed 40 feature-length documentaries in a career spanning almost 50 years, and whose latest film NATIONAL GALLERY is turning up on many Ten Best lists for 2014, will answer audience questions after a series of clips from some of his films. Tickets to the event, which will take place in CIA’s Aitken Auditorium at 11141 East Boulevard, cost $25; Cinematheque members and CIA students and staff $20; ages 25 & under $12. $25 and $20 tickets can be purchased in advance at

“There can be little doubt that Frederick Wiseman is the greatest American filmmaker alive,” says Cinema Scope magazine. “He is for modern U.S. cinema what John Ford was for the classical era.” Wiseman’s lifelong work has been to chronicle the inner workings of American institutions—schools, hospitals, police departments, prisons, army outposts, and art institutions, to name just a few. He does this by visiting a place for a period of weeks, recording what he sees there, and then editing his hours and hours of raw footage down to a “movie” (in his words) that can last anywhere between 90 minutes and six hours. Wiseman’s “fly-on-the-wall” aesthetic shuns voiceover narration, interviews, explanatory titles, and graphics. He says he seeks only to assemble individual dramatic episodes into a condensed work that has “rhythm and structure” and is “fair” to the subjects portrayed. Wiseman, now 85, has won numerous awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant.
Trained as a lawyer, Wiseman burst upon the film scene with his very first film, TITICUT FOLLIES (1967), an unflinching and inflammatory behind-the-bars looks at Massachusetts’ Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane. The movie was banned by state courts for 20 years, allegedly because it violated the patients/inmates’ privacy and dignity. But what it really did was show how Massachusetts was bullying and abusing people in its care. TITICUT FOLLIES, which is now on the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, remains the only American movie ever banned from general distribution for reasons other than obscenity, immorality, or national security. The Cinematheque will show it (in Wiseman’s own 35mm print) the night before the director’s appearance, on Saturday, January 24, at 8:35 pm. Tickets to that film (at the door only) cost $12; members and those age 25 & under $9.
More information about Frederick Wiseman and his films can be found at

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