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Frederick Wiseman’s

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$12.00 for 48-hour rental. Your rental helps support Film Forum.


NOMINEE – Best Documentary, 2020 Gotham Awards

City government touches upon almost every aspect of our lives. Most of us take for granted necessary services like sanitation, veterans affairs, elder support, parks, licensing bureaus, recordkeeping, as well a myriad of other activities that support the citizenry. In CITY HALL, through a series of his trademark masterfully edited vignettes, filmmaker Frederick Wiseman explores the inner-workings of the government of his native Boston. Headed by earnest, progressive Mayor Martin Walsh, a diverse, passionate network of public servants works to keep Boston running while grappling with pressing issues like racial justice, affordable housing, climate action, and homelessness. CITY HALL played at this year’s Venice, Toronto and New York Film Festivals. It is the 14th of Wiseman’s films to debut at Film Forum, making him the most often-premiered filmmaker in our 50-year history.

Presented alongside CITY HALL will be Wednesdays with Wiseman, a series of three Wiseman classics – BALLET (1995); SINAI FIELD MISSION (1978); HOSPITAL (1974) – available on successive Wednesdays beginning October 21, accompanied by conversations between Wiseman and other Oscar-winning filmmakers (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (FREE SOLO), Errol Morris (THE FOG OF WAR), and Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady (JESUS CAMP), respectively). Rental details to be announced.

Presented with support from Film Forum’s Documentary Fund. Leadership gifts received from: Hugo Barreca, Leon and Michaela Constantiner, Ostrovsky Family Fund.

Presented with support from the Richard Brick, Geri Ashur, and Sarah Bershtel Fund for Social Justice Documentaries.

USA     2020     275 MINS.     ZIPPORAH FILMS


“Critic’s Pick. Magisterial… An exploration of civil society and the common good... Wiseman has answered that laugh line (‘The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help’ – Ronald Reagan) and its cruelty with a titanic body of work that – meeting by meeting, institution by institution – serves as a powerful refutation. His is the art of resistance at its finest.”
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“Serenely and thrillingly observant… [Wiseman] turns bureaucratic procedure into a kind of poetry, and finds both comedy and profundity in the banal idioms of governance. CITY HALL also provides a powerful and precise account of what democracy looks like beyond the rhetoric of campaigns.”
– A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“Essential viewing. Frederick Wiseman is American cinema’s foremost sociological auteur. Even at the age of 90, Wiseman continues to churn out non-fiction gems like no other, and that definitely holds true with regards to his latest, CITY HALL... a sprawling panorama of government and community work… Proves a celebration of the power of storytelling to unite—and, also, a masterful example of it.”
– Nick Schager, Daily Beast

“America would be a better place if everyone watched... exhilarating... a rich tapestry of Boston in argument with itself. A vibrant half-day hangout with democracy in action.”
– David Ehrlich, IndieWire

“Wiseman returns to the kind of vibrant, diverse, urban, East Coast community he charted in EX LIBRIS or JACKSON HEIGHTS, and the energy is palpable... probably Wiseman’s most topical documentary to date.”
– Lee Marshall, Screen International

“Formidable and incisive... engrossing.”
– Keith Uhlich, SLANT

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