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Ex Libris (free)

  • Vilas Hall 821 University Avenue Madison, WI, 53706 United States (map)

In addition to serving as the finale in UW Cinematheque's miniature "Documentary Pioneer" retrospective on the influential Frederick Wiseman, Ex Libris (2017) is a prominent feature premiere here in the Midwest. This all-encompassing 197-minute observation of the New York Public Library's Manhattan hub at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street—as well as its 92 branches across the five boroughs—may be regarded as a perfect amalgamation of Wiseman's two prior films, National Gallery (2014) and In Jackson Heights (2015). National Gallery's graceful tour of the esteemed museum in Trafalgar Square, London, exposed every public and private facet through extended scenes of benevolent discussion and erudite lecture; and In Jackson Heights expanded beyond the walls of an arts institution to document the struggles and triumphs in one of America's most ethnically diverse neighborhoods (in Queens). In unifying these approaches to subject matter, Ex Libris is perhaps even more inclusive and involving, as the NYPL has become such a vast community resource in this country's most densely populated city. It's also Wiseman's intention to redefine the public library as a reliable space to educate and train through independent learning and collaborative workshops alike. This actively challenges libraries' 20th-century reputation as quiet study spaces and mere repositories for tomes. In watching bibliophiles in the film host chamber concerts, poetry readings, and reach out to others in need of basic information or substantial job tutoring, Madisonians will likely draw comparisons to our own Madison Public Library system and its vital central branch, which was revitalized through a remodel in 2013 and awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Science in 2016 . —Grant Phipps

Later Event: November 3
Nestle, Lovely Socialite (free)