Frederick Wiseman has directed and produced more than 40 films over the course of his illustrious career. His films offer profound insights into American institutions, reveling in the human stories that make up our social systems. The titles of his films introduce their subjects with deceptive simplicity: they include High School (1968), Welfare (1975), Public Housing (1997), and City Hall (2020). In his latest film, Menus-Plaisirs – Les Troisgros (2023), Wiseman brings his penetrating gaze to a three-star Michelin restaurant in rural France.
Wiseman’s documentaries are known for their subtle, observational style. He does not deploy expository techniques like voiceovers or interviews, but instead immerses himself in the institutions that he studies, letting poignant stories unfold before his camera and editing the footage into rhythmic vignettes. Moderated by the writer and critic Carlos Valladares, join us at the Library to hear this cinematic giant reflect upon his work and method.
This event will be followed by a cocktail reception.
About the speakers:
Frederick Wiseman is a film and theater director of 47 films, primarily focusing on American institutions. His most recent film MENUS-PLAISIRS Les Troisgros will be released in Fall 2023. In 2019, he was the honoree of the Library Lions Award from the New York Public Library and received the Pennebaker Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards. In 2018, he was the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University. In 2016, he received an Honorary Award for lifetime achievement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Directors. He is a MacArthur Fellow, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has won numerous awards, including four Emmys. In recent years, he directed The Belle of Amherst, Beckett’s Happy Days in Paris and Vasily Grossman’s The Last Letter at the Comédie-Française in Paris and Theatre for a New Audience in New York. A ballet inspired by his first film, TITICUT FOLLIES (1967), premiered at the New York University Skirball Theater in 2017.
Carlos Valladares is a writer, critic, and film programmer from Los Angeles. He studied film at Stanford University and is currently completing his doctorate in History of Art and Film & Media Studies at Yale University. He has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, Gagosian Quarterly, Film Comment, n+1, Frieze, the Cleveland Review of Books, and the Criterion Collection.