It Takes Time: 10 Films by Frederick Wiseman
'I’m making movies about common human experiences, which differ from place to place because traditions, customs and habits differ. But the basic experiences are the same. I think my subject is ordinary experience. I attempt to create a dramatic structure drawn from ordinary experience and unstaged, everyday events' – Frederick Wiseman
In a multi-award-studded career spanning 7 decades, acclaimed veteran filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has invited us into worlds we may never have known we cared about until he showed them to us. His ‘reality fictions’ – he disdains the notions of cinéma verité, direct or observational cinema – chronicle the functioning of contemporary American institutions, with occasional explorations of illustrious international establishments, of every ilk (pedagogical, carceral, cultural, civic) and what makes communities tick.
His patient gaze eschews narration, interviews and background music, and reveals the lives and experience of people within these structures or neighbourhoods – on the job or enjoying iconic sites such as Central Park. At times it also captures the creative process. Despite his apparently neutral camera dispassionately recording whatever it happens upon, often from up close, Wiseman’s highly structured oeuvre – editing the many hours of footage can be a year-long process – conveys empathy with its subjects. It is also clear that he engenders trust; his camera is never intrusive.
After an early venture into film production, Wiseman decided to make films he would direct, produce and edit himself. 'The most sophisticated intelligence in documentary', to quote Pauline Kael, has followed this path ever since. He has created a peerless body of work that, with passing time, offers a historical perspective of humanity in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Presented in partnership with the Sydney Film Festival and ACMI.
Titicut Follies - 12 June, 1:00pm
Welfare - 26 June, 1:00pm
Central Park - 10 July, 1:00pm
High School ll - 24 July, 1:00pm
Belfast, Maine - 7 August, 1:00pm
Domestic Violence - 21 August, 1:00pm
La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet - 11 September, 1:00pm
In Jackson Heights - 25 September, 1:00pm
Ex Libris: The New York Public Library - 9 October, 1:00pm
City Hall - 23 October, 1:00pm
Biography: Frederick Wiseman
Frederick Wiseman, 92, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, which continues to be his home – when he is not in Paris, often doing post-production work on his films. After training to be a lawyer, he taught at Boston University School of Law in the late 1950s. While there, he took his students out of the classroom and into institutions to which their work might eventually lead them: prisons, parole board hearings, medical examiner’s offices, courtrooms… places he would later go on to film.
His film career began with producing The Cool World (1963), directed by Shirley Clark. That ‘depressing and liberating’ experience made him set out to direct, produce and edit his own films. Of his 45 films, 41 have won industry awards; Wiseman has been the recipient of numerous lifetime achievement awards, along with Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships.
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