The latest film by Frederick Wiseman – one of cinema’s greatest documentarians – reveals the labour involved in making, maintaining and improving a city for its citizens.
By turning a lens upon the workings of Boston’s city government and mayor, Wiseman’s panoramic opus bears deep, insightful and nuanced witness to the complexities, textures and efforts of urban governance and democracy in action. Wiseman’s astute form of cinematic minute taking carries a political and poetic force, demonstrating the strength and fragility of civic life.
Shot during the Trump administration, the film highlights Boston’s fights for social justice, racial equity, and structural change, “Because”, in Mayor Walsh’s words, “a more equal conversation means a more resilient city.” Over the course of an afternoon with Wiseman’s film, a city’s potential to be an engine of social progress – within and beyond its geographical limits – is made clear, through an urban portrait exploring how people can help people to live together.
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