Fearful Symmetries

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01 January, 2014

Frederick Wiseman on At Berkeley



Frederick Wiseman is an American institution. He's a pioneer of documentary cinema and, at age 84 (Today is his birthday, in fact. Happy Birthday, Mr. Wiseman!) he is still making movies. His latest is At Berkeley, a look at UC-Berkeley filmed in 2010 as the campus saw students protesting tuition rates in the middle of The Great Recession.

Wiseman is known for making documentaries about institutions using a style known as "direct cinema" which involves the camera being unobtrusive and simply observing events as they unfold. There's little or no narration. He and his crew embed themselves in an institution and document the interplay and dynamics of the people in it and with others who interact with them. Over the 40+ years of his career he has documented America like no one else.

Senses of Cinema has a really nice conversation with Wiseman in their December issue. It's not super-film geeky and it is quite interesting. Wiseman talks a bit about his style, the making of At Berkeley, and the issues his movie brings up, amongst other things. At one point he says, "It’s much better to see it projected...I’m hoping the film gets booked in state universities because the issues are the same everywhere."

Thanks to UW-Cinematheque, the movie will screen here in Madison on Saturday, 1 March.


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|| Palmer, 10:02 AM

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