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High School + Hospital (free)

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

High School.

Many moviegoers know Frederick Wiseman as the rigorous documentarian whose lengthy works of the past decade (like 2015's critically acclaimed In Jackson Heights) have delved into cultural and social institutions. However, Wiseman's pioneering cinéma vérité dates back some 50 years, as the Wisconsin Film Festival celebrated this year with the presentation of his 1967 directorial debut, Titicut Follies. UW Cinematheque follows that up this fall with a five-week partial retrospective on Wiseman's film, beginning with a restored 35mm double-feature of early, condensed masterpieces (both under 90 minutes) that shed equal light on the struggles of the American working class, the innocuously titled High School (1968) at 7 p.m. and Hospital (1969) at 8:30. High School offers a window into Wiseman's ultimate influence on American filmmaking, seen in works as wide-ranging as Todd Solondz's narrative feature, Storytelling (2001), in which a comically misguided filmmaker attempts to make an authentic documentary on the high school experience, to Amanda Wilder's more serious, didactic, and illuminating Approaching The Elephant (2014), which focuses on the Teddy McArdle Free School. High School doc looks at various dimensions of Northeast High School in suburban Philadelphia, framing the adolescent experience as more than the formality of public education and offering insight into its crisis of conformity and bullying not only between peers but in the tactics of the school's administration. By subject matter alone, Hospital (1969) is more akin to Titicut Follies' exposure of the inner workings of Bridgewater Hospital for the Criminally Insane. However, at the general Metropolitan Hospital in East Harlem, the tone isn't quite as extreme, even if Wiseman gravitates towards the strained and sometimes desperate scenarios of community members seeking affordable access to treatment. Anyone appreciative of the eye-opening drama in Peter Nicks' The Waiting Room (2012)  will instantly recognize Hospital's foresight. —Grant Phipps

Later Event: October 6
La Santa Cecilia