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(Hybrid) Behind the Lens with Frederick Wiseman

Thu 30 November 2023 @ 19 h 30 - 20 h 30


American filmmaker, Emmy Award-winner, and Oscars honoree Frederick Wiseman discusses truth and objectivity, the ethics of narrative, and his decade-spanning career in cinema.

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.

Learn more:

Wiseman’s latest film, Menus-Plaisirs – Les Troisgros, has been described as “a food lover’s dream” (The Hollywood Reporter). Watch the trailer for the documentary here.

A 2020 profile of Wiseman in The New York Times provides a rounded introduction to the filmmaker’s work, style, and personality. Read it here.

Important information: The discussion will be available both online and in person. While the conversation will happen in person (Wiseman will appear in the Reading Room), the Library will stream the conversation on Zoom for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.

Attendance at this event constitutes permission for your photograph or video to be taken at the event and used by the American Library in Paris for marketing, promotional, pedagogical, or other purposes.

Evenings with an Author are free and open to the public (with a 10€ suggested donation)
thanks to the generous support of Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of GRoW @ Annenberg.


Thu 30 November 2023
19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min
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(Hybrid) Behind the Lens with Frederick Wiseman
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