Frederick Wiseman

Respect – the idfa has sent out this press release:

In honour of his 80th birthday, this year’s IDFA will be devoting special attention to the work of Frederick Wiseman. Wiseman has directed and produced dozens of documentaries, which often focussed on social relations within American institutions. He is regarded as one of the major exponents of Direct Cinema. Alongside a retrospective programme compiled by himself, screening of his latest film and a masterclass, the festival will also be looking at Wiseman’s work as a theatre director.
Wiseman (USA, 1930) made his debut as a documentary maker in 1967 with Titicut Follies, about a psychiatric clinic for convicted criminals. The film paints a shocking picture of the humiliating way the detainees were treated, which led to Wiseman being sued many times by the authorities. Many of his later films, including High School, Hospital and Near Death, are also studies of social relations in a variety of – usually American – institutions.
Although he himself would disagree, Wiseman’s work is often included in the category Direct Cinema, the documentary movement, which

strove for the representation of objective reality. In the early 1960s, the introduction of portable cameras and sound recording equipment made it possible for filmmakers to follow their subjects up close, like a ‘fly on the wall’. Wiseman, however, never asserted that his observational style was an attempt to film an objective reality, as he believes film to be by definition a personal and subjective medium.
Wiseman has been a faithful IDFA attendee from the very beginning of the festival. He chaired the first jury in 1988, thereby lending tremendous support to a then small festival. 2004 saw the big IDFA Direct Cinema debate, attended by the movement’s foremost representatives: Robert Drew, Albert and David Maysles, Richard Leacock, D.A. Pennebaker and Frederick Wiseman.
To mark his 80th birthday in January 2010, at IDFA’s request Wiseman has selected nine of his old films to be screened at this year’s festival. In addition, Wiseman will give a masterclass, in which he will discuss his work and working method.   
The Frederick Wiseman Retrospective will include Titicut Follies (1967), High School (1968), Hospital (1969), Basic Training (1971), Welfare (1975), Model (1980), Missile (1987), Near Death (1989), Belfast, Maine (1999). His latest film, La Danse – le Ballet de l’Opera de Paris (2009), about the famous ballet company in Paris, also screens in the Reflecting Images: Masters programme.
Alongside making documentaries, Wiseman has also directed a number of plays. In late 2005, for example, he directed Happy Days by Samuel Beckett for the Comédie Française in Paris. Together with French actress Catherine Samie, who played the lead, Wiseman will elucidate on his version of this theatre classic at IDFA 2009 by means of live performance, lectures and fragments of recordings of the play.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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