Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Special offer for Public Libraries on Films of Frederick Wiseman

posted by Nell Minow

Pioneering documentarian Frederick Wiseman is one of the key developers of what is sometimes called “observational” or “direct” cinema. These days, our concept of documentaries is often shaped by Michael Moore or Al Gore, unabashedly advocacy movies that are more like op-ed pieces than journalism. But Wiseman’s interest in institutions of all kinds, from mental hospitals to high schools, from high end department stores to welfare offices, from making decisions with and about patients at the end of life to the efforts of people with disabilities to achieve independence, from people on welfare to state legislators, from missile-makers to high-fashion models, all are displayed in forthright documentaries that tell their stories without narration.
While there is no such thing as complete objectivity in any story-telling and Wiseman himself is the first to admit that he shapes his stories with his choice of structure, the order and the positioning of the cuts, his movies have a kind of directness and intimacy that lets us experience what he shows us in our own way, without relying on anyone telling us what to think about what we are seeing. He does not interact with his subjects. He lets them tell their own stories, not by speaking to us directly but by becoming so comfortable with his camera that they let us see them as they are.
Wiseman’s films have sometimes been controversial. His first documentary, “Titticut Follies,” is a searing expose of a Massachusetts mental hospital. It was banned from release and restricted in its showing to anyone but educators and students by a court order on the grounds that it violated the patients’ rights to privacy, despite the fact that Wiseman had received permission from all of the people portrayed in the film or else their legal guardian. The film’s unblinking portrayal of the abusive and neglectful treatment of the patients may have been the reason for the ruling. In 1992, it was allowed to be shown on PBS.
The films are available on DVD at a modest price for individuals. For a limited time, Wiseman’s films are available to public libraries at a discount.
Enter code “PUBLIB15” at checkout to receive 15% off orders of 5 films or more
Enter code “PUBLIB20” at checkout to receive 20% off orders of 15 films or more



  • Chatteringmind

    I was seventeen when I saw my first Wiseman film. It definitely rocked my world, and shaped me as a budding journalist. –AC

  • Nell Minow

    So good to hear from you, Chattering! Thanks for stopping by. I, too, saw my first Wiseman film at age 17, at a summer program I attended before my senior year in high school. It shaped me as an observer of my own experience and as a film critic! All best to you and your family for St. Patrick’s Day, too!

Previous Posts

Behind the Scenes Clip: Adam Levine in "Begin Again"
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/RhZTVijgpb8?rel=0" frameborder="0"] I have one copy of the wonderful soundtrack to give away!  Send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with Levine in the subject line and tell me your favorite song of the summer.  Don't forget your

posted 3:59:43pm Jul. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Thunder Levin of "Sharknado" and "Sharknado 2"
One of the highlights of Comic-Con was the chance to catch up with Thunder Levin, screenwriter of the sensation, "Sharknado" and the sequel, "Sharknado 2," which premieres tonight on Syfy.  The original was remarkable for its over-the-top storyline and even more for the Twitter-nado it inspired.  

posted 7:37:17am Jul. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Contest Winner -- "Earth to Echo's" GoPro Camera
Thanks to all who entered!  This contest had far more entries than any other I've ever run.  Congratulations to the lucky winner! WINNER OF THE GOPRO CAMERA: Susan D. Burkburnett, TX  

posted 11:54:55pm Jul. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Intuition -- A Short Film from Danielle Lurie
I love this short film from Danielle Lurie about a young woman who needs to learn to listen to her heart, with a wonderful performance by Montse Muñoz. [vimeo]https://vimeo.com/101953117[/vimeo]

posted 10:09:01am Jul. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Joseph Nasser of "Amber Alert: Terror on the Highway"
Reserve Police Officer Joseph Nasser produced Amber Alert: Terror on the Highway to help raise awareness of the Amber Alert system. It stars Tom Berenger as a man on the edge, making a dead rush for Mexico and kidnapping two young girls along the way. He is hotly pursued by police chief Martha Geig

posted 8:00:33am Jul. 28, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.