“Fear is a wonderful motor.” Given Frederick Wiseman’s extensive and prolific life in the documentary film world, he’s more than qualified to make that pronouncement. This week sees the theatrical opening of “In Jackson Heights,” his latest film in a career that’s spanned almost a half-century. Indiewire Editor in Chief Dana Harris spoke with Wiseman at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival about his new release and the directorial philosophies that have sustained him through some mammoth feats of documentary filmmaking.
From the seminal “Titicut Follies” to the more recent “National Gallery,” Wiseman love to capture the daily workings of various institutions. “During the shooting, I don’t even think about the structure,” Wiseman said. “The job during the shooting is to accumulate as many interesting sequences as I can.”
For his latest film, which looks at a variety of cultural influences in the neighborhood of Jackson Heights in Queens, that meant a significant of metaphorical and literal legwork. “One of the things I like about documentary film is that it’s completely absorbing, both intellectually and physically,” he said.
For more, including theories on why documentary filmmaking is both a full-body workout and a loss leader, listen to the full interview above.
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