Documentary filmmaking veterans Frederick Wiseman and Errol Morris have spanned the globe across their decades of nonfiction work. But just like any cinephile stuck at home, they’ve also seen a few movies during the quarantine, which they discussed in this exclusive clip from an upcoming Q&A featuring the filmmakers above, which is being presented by theaters nationwide to support the upcoming release of Wiseman’s “City Hall.”
Both hardworking directors have new movies coming out in the pandemic as well, including Wiseman’s look at the political inner-workings of a small-town government in Boston with” City Hall,” and Morris’ upcoming film about LSD activist Timothy Leary, “My Psychedelic Love Story.” A new virtual retrospective of Wiseman’s work, beginning on October 21, is now rolling out in virtual cinemas around the country.
“Wednesdays with Wiseman” launches on October 21 with the film “Ballet,” alongside a conversation with Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, the Oscar-winning co-director of “Free Solo.” Later, the conversation with Errol Morris will precede a screening of Wiseman’s 1978 “Sinai Field Mission,” centered on diplomats and workers who operated the warning system established following the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Egypt and Israel, on October 28.
On November 4, multiple theaters nationwide will present Wiseman’s influential “Hospital,” the 1970 study of essential workers at an urban hospital, with a conversation with “Jesus Camp” co-directors Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing.
The series will lead up to the November 6 release of “City Hall,” an immersive four-and-a-half-hour experience that plants audiences in the municipality of Wiseman’s Boston hometown to illustrate a government taking care of its diverse citizens, all against the backdrop of an eroding democracy in the United States. The film played the Venice, Toronto, and New York film festivals.
“Though the 90-year-old documentary legend has been chronicling social institutions ever since 1967’s ‘Titicut Follies,’ many of his projects casually drift through three or four hours of dense, layered portraits following the people behind vast organizational forces,” IndieWire Chief Critic Eric Kohn wrote in his review for IndieWire. “Ironically, this has actually made his work even more valuable with time, and ‘City Hall,’ which clocks in at four hours and 32 minutes, is no exception. As attention spans dwindle and the complex mess of American governance grows murkier than ever, Wiseman’s immersive dive into Boston’s city services ignores the pressure to dumb things down and marvels at the complexity of a system designed to make the world run right.”
The film opens October 28 virtually at Film Forum in New York, followed by expanding nationally on November 6. Here’s the full list of dates.