Frederick Wiseman

Frederick Wiseman – Blind (1987)

Synopsis:
BLIND shows the educational programs and daily life of students in kindergarten through the 12th grade at the Alabama School for the Blind. The School is organized around the effort to educate blind and visually impaired students to be in charge of their own lives. Sequences in the film include mobility training, braille instruction and orientation as well as traditional classroom subjects such as English, history, science and music. Other sequences show psychological counseling sessions; vocational training; staff dealing with student disciplinary problems; and the wide variety of recreational and athletic programs. Read More »

Frederick Wiseman – Belfast, Maine (1995)

Synopsis:
BELFAST, MAINE is a film about ordinary experience in a beautiful old New England port city. It is a portrait of daily life with particular emphasis on the work and the cultural life of the community. Among the activities shown in the film are the work of lobstermen, tug-boat operators, factory workers, shop owners, city counselors, doctors, judges, policemen, teachers, social workers, nurses and ministers. Cultural activities include choir rehearsal, dance class, music lessons and theatre production. Read More »

Frederick Wiseman – Primate (1974) (HD)

Among Wiseman’s funniest films – “a riot,” he deadpanned – Primate is also one of his most chilling. At the Yerkes Primate Research Centre, Wiseman fixes his camera behind rows of chain-link fencing, stuck at a hopeless impasse between the humans’ total lack of empathy and monkeys stripped of their agency. At a boardroom debate about artificial insemination, the director turns a conference into a playpen, zooming-in on scientists yawning, picking noses and jutting their jaws in boredom (by a lovely coincidence, he also happened to be filming during a particularly hirsute decade). For the finale to this grotesque circus, Wiseman turns to a real-time squirrel monkey dissection.
— Michael Ewins (bfi.org.uk). Read More »

Frederick Wiseman – Essene (1972) (HD)

In contrast to the oppressive rigour of Wiseman’s earlier subjects – including High School (1968) and Basic Training (1971) – this investigation into an organised social structure is tender and serene, revolving around the activities of a Benedictine monastery. In one beautiful scene we hear a Japanese monk asking his brothers to pray for the innocents in Hiroshima; later, a plain-clothes monk heads into town to buy a potato peeler. Read More »

Frederick Wiseman – La dernière lettre AKA The Last Letter (2002)

Synopsis:
Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman makes his second fictional feature with La Dernière Lettre (The Last Letter). Anna Semyonova (Catherine Samie) is locked up in an occupied Ukrainian ghetto in 1941. Adapted from Vasily Grossman’s novel Life and Fate, the film consists of the woman reciting a monologue of the final letter she wrote to her son before the Nazis came for her. Shot in black-and-white, the only other characters in this film are the shadows on the wall. Read More »

Frederick Wiseman – High School II (1994)

Plot Outline :
HIGH SCHOOL II is a film about Central Park East Secondary School (CPESS), a successful alternative high school in New York’s Spanish Harlem, 85-95% of whose graduates go on to four year colleges. The film illustrates the school’s emphasis on the “Habits of Mind” program (weighing evidence; awareness of multiple points of view; seeing connections and relationships; speculating on possibilities; and assessing values.) Sequences illustrating the school’s approach to learning include: classroom activities in the humanities and sciences; family conferences; discussions of race, class, and gender; faculty meetings; disciplinary problems; sex education; conflict resolution by students; and student council meetings. Read More »

Frederick Wiseman – Boxing Gym (2010)

SYNOPSIS
Austin, Texas. Lord’s Gym was founded sixteen years ago by Richard Lord, a former professional boxer. A wide variety of people of all ages, races, ethnicities and social classes train at the gym: men, women, children, doctors, lawyers, judges, business men and women, immigrants, professional boxers and people who want to become professional boxers alongside amateurs who love the sport and teenagers who are trying to develop strength and assertiveness. The gym is an example of the American “melting pot” where people meet, talk, and train. Read More »