In the course of nearly forty films, beginning with Titicut Follies (1967), his controversial study of a prison mental hospital in Massachusetts, Frederick Wiseman has established himself as one of the defining figures within documentary. With works like High School (1968), Welfare (1975), and Zoo (1993), he advanced an observational style unencumbered by narration, talking heads, and other devices often associated with nonfiction filmmaking. Considered collectively, his films constitute an incisive, encyclopedic view of American culture, as seen through the structures and operations of its individual institutions. For one of his most recent projects, Boxing Gym, Wiseman focuses on Lord’s Gym in Austin, Texas, whose facilities are home to a diverse cross-section of society. Propelled by the staccato rhythm of fists pounding a speed bag, the film illuminates the manifold choreographies—by turns delicate and brutal—of ringside training. For more information on Wiseman and his films visit the Zipporah Films website.
Frederick Wiseman’s work is being screened in the Museum’s second floor film & video gallery June 6 through 10.