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Monday, February 5

Directed by Frederick Wiseman

(1967) Court-ordered out of theaters for decades (for supposedly violating its subjects’ privacy), Wiseman’s first film goes inside the Bridgewater (Mass.) State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where brutality and callous insensitivity rule: a shrink’s overly-interested questioning of a child molester, routinely humiliating strip searches, a doctor’s ash-heavy cigarette dangling as he force-feeds an inmate through a funnel, etc. 35mm. Approx. 84 min.


– Time Out

“A principled and gravely disturbing look into the void… Now, 50 years later, the film can be seen for what it was: a work of political art and moral courage.” 
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“One of the most despairing documentaries I have ever seen; more immediate than fiction because these people are real; more savage than satire because it seems to be neutral.”
– Roger Ebert

“Trained as a lawyer, Wiseman has chosen as his ever-evolving cinematic subject the American social contract, and how the machinery of the state upholds or shreds it. His first film is a hellish descent into a Massachusetts institution for the criminally insane where, it would seem, the lunatics have taken over the asylum. The editing often purposefully blurs the distinction between patient (some irretrievably deranged, some desperately lucid) and doctor.”
– Jessica Winter, Time Out (London) 

“Anyone seeking a comprehensive portrait of what civilization has been like this past half century should maybe just sit down and watch as many Frederick Wiseman movies as possible… It isn’t often that a filmmaker’s first feature remains his most famous and controversial work, especially when said filmmaker has close to 50 features to his name. But Titicut Follies, Wiseman’s 1967 directorial debut, remains the movie he’s best known for all these years later.”
– A.A. Dowd, A.V. Club