Frederick Wiseman  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Frederick Wiseman (born January 1 1930 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA) is an American documentary filmmaker best known for his 1967 Titicut Follies.

Biography

Born into a Jewish family, he came to documentary filmmaking after first being trained as a lawyer, a fact that has influenced his style and choice of subjects ever since.

In 2003, Frederick Wiseman received the George Polk Career Award given annually by Long Island University to honor contributions to journalistic integrity and investigative reporting.

The first feature-length film that Wiseman worked on was Titicut Follies in 1967. This explosively controversial film launched the career of one of the grand-masters of American documentary. Not only is Wiseman a master of his art, but he has remained almost unbelievably prolific throughout his career. He has made 36 films in 38 years, many of them considered by documentary historians to be masterpieces of the form. His films have become longer and longer as his career progressed, with many of his films being more than 3 – some more than 4 – hours long. In spite of their length, all of his films are shown on PBS, which is one of his primary funders.

While Wiseman certainly has a strong interest in social issues, he is not an exposé film maker; he does not build his films around exposing a specific injustice. The only exception is his first film, Titicut Follies. Here he did seek to effect change on the situation, but the experience left him disillusioned with the "naïve and pretentious view that there was some kind of one-to-one connection between a film and social change." (Poppy) Since then he has hoped to effect change at a more abstract level, by illustrating to his audience the everyday interactions between people and institutions.

Wiseman has a unique style of filmmaking. His films seldom utilize any predictable or overt narrative structure. He does not interview his subjects, nor does he narrate or comment on what happens. This style of filmmaking is often referred to as the observational mode, which has its roots in direct cinema; Wiseman is often described as a direct cinema pioneer. However, Wiseman dislikes the term:

What I try to do is edit the films so that they will have a dramatic structure, that is why I object to some extent to the term observational cinema or cinema verité, because observational cinema to me at least connotes just hanging around with one thing being as valuable as another and that is not true. At least that is not true for me and cinema verité is just a pompous French term that has absolutely no meaning as far as I'm concerned. Aftab, Weltz




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Frederick Wiseman" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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