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The 91-year-old master Frederick Wiseman is known for his lengthy, observational documentaries portraying American institutions (among others Central Park, 1989, At Berkeley, 2013 and Ex Libris, 2017), and in his newest film he takes you inside Boston’s City Hall. Through an impressive length of four and a half hour, Wiseman offers a fascinating look into the stronghold of power. The quotidian duties of the politicians revolve around making decisions about worker’s rights, creating a fair housing policy and discussions about representation.
Being a fly on the wall, we get a unique insight into these usually closed rooms where ordinary bureaucrats attempts to navigate a jungle of political deliberations and guidelines. At the front of all these people roaming the hallways between countless meetings is mayor Marty Walsh, democrat and a son of Irish immigrants.
The film was recorded between 2018 and 2019 and paints a picture of a politician that is the antithesis of the previous American president; Walsh expresses a burning commitment to environmental issues, immigrant rights and gender equality. The documentary seems to have functioned as a job application, as Walsh now holds the position of Minister of Labor in the Biden administration.
City Hall is sincerely entertaining, precisely as a Wiseman documentary should be. If you haven’t previously experienced Wiseman’s observations of society, this is the perfect starting point to familiarize yourself with one of the greatest living documentarists.
Johanne Svendsen Rognlien
Frederick Wiseman (b. 1930) has a long career behind him, and is one of the most important and original documentary filmmakers that are still active today. He was born in the US and studied law at Yale University. The first feature-length film Wiseman produced was The Cool World (1963) before he made his directorial debut with Titicut Follies in 1967. Wiseman’s films are mainly studies of social institutions such as hospitals, libraries and schools. In 2014, Wiseman received the Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award at the Venice film festival.
This film is part of
Director Frederick Wiseman
Cinematography John Davey
Producer Karen Konicek
Cast Martin Walsh
Production Company Ford Foundation - Just Films, ITVS, PBS, Puritan Films
Runtime 4h 35m
Subtitles No Subtitles
Age limit A
This film is in competition for the Audience Award.
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