Public Housing

  • Frederick Wiseman
  • United States
  • 1997
  • 195 min
  • IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary
The American documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman is an investigative journalist with a camera or, even better, a superdetective with an unremitting sense of detection. In thirty years time he has made exactly thirty documentaries, in which he followed people in a specific environment over a longer period of time. In the tradition of the "direct cinema" Wiseman does not ask any questions and does not give any comments, and apparently after a few weeks people have grown so used to his presence that they hardly notice the camera anymore.

Wiseman used the same approach for PUBLIC HOUSING, a documentary of more than three hours for which he entrenched himself for a number of weeks in a dreary Chicago suburb. Wiseman follows Ida B. Wells, a massive black woman with steamed-up glasses and battered teeth who calls herself "the president of Ida B. Wells Homes". For twenty years she has been working in a scantily furnished office, devoting her life to the homeless people of this area, a black ghetto where policemen and exterminators must turn out every day. Besides showing gross degeneration, Wiseman also shows the activities of the city council, the state and the federal government, and he follows all kinds of training programmes for youngsters. The image of America evoked by Wiseman in PUBLIC HOUSING is reminiscent of a Third World country.

Credits

  • 195 min
  • color
  • video
Director
Frederick Wiseman
Production
Zipporah Films
Distribution
Zipporah Films

IDFA history

1997
Screened
IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary

Share this film

Print this page

IDFA history

This website uses cookies.

By using cookies we can measure how our site is used, how it can be further improved and to personalize the content of online advertisements.

Read
 here everything about our cookie policy. If you choose to decline, we only place functional and analytical cookies