Frederic Wiseman (United States)

Frederick Wiseman was born in Boston Massachusetts in 1930. Wiseman served in the U.S Military between 1954 and 1956. He also spent some time in Paris before returning to America and teaching Law at the Boston University’s Institute of Law and Medicine.

Despite initially training as a lawyer, Wiseman turned to documentary filmmaking very successfully. He has won numerous film awards, as well as Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships.

In 2003, Wiseman was awarded the Dan David Prize and in 2006, the George Polk Career Award, given annually by Long Island University to honour contributions to journalistic integrity and investigative reporting.

The institutions that Wiseman examined early in his career – a hospital, a high school, army basic training, a welfare centre, a police precinct – have “problems” that the filmmaker uncovers. His approach reveals the profound acknowledged and unacknowledged conformity and inequality of American society.

Wiseman’s films are also a reflection on democracy. His films portray the “American dream” and the “air conditioned nightmare” questioning the world and human existence.

Over the years his films have become more a skilful mix of observation, testimony, reflection, an absence of prejudice, and courage, and humour. A complex body of work, as great works of fiction (novels, drama, music, and film) can be, with the same profundity, contradictions, and questions without answers.


Titicut Follies (84´, USA, 1967)
High School (75´, USA, 1968)
Law and Order (81´, USA, 1969)
Hospital (84´, USA, 1970)
Basic Training (80´, USA, 1971)
Essene (86´, USA, 1972)
Juvenile Court (144´, USA, 1973)
Primate (105´, USA, 1974)
Welfare (167´, USA, 1975)
Meat (112´, USA, 1976)
Canal Zone (174´, USA, 1977)
Sinai Field Mission (127´, USA, 1978)
Manoeuvre (115´, USA, 1979)
Seraphita's Diary (90´, USA, 1980)
Model (129´, USA, 1980)
The Store (118´, USA, 1983)
Racetrack (114´, USA, 1985)
Multi-Handicapped (126´, USA, 1986)
Deaf (164´, USA, 1986)
Adjustment and Work (120´, USA, 1986)
Missile (115´, USA, 1987)
Blind (132´, USA, 1987)
Central Park (176´, USA, 1989)
Near Death (358´, USA, 1989)
Aspen (146´, USA, 1991)
Zoo (130´, USA, 1993)
Ballet (170´, USA, 1995)
La Comédie-Française ou L'amour joué (223´, USA, 1996)
Public Housing (200´, USA, 1997)
Belfast, Maine (245´, USA, 1999)
Domestic Violence (196´, USA, 2001)
La dernière lettre/ The Last Letter (61´, USA/France, 2002)
State Legislature (217´, USA, 2007)
La danse - Le ballet de l'Opéra de Paris (159´, France/USA, 2009)
Boxing Gym (91´, USA, 2010)
Crazy Horse (134', USA/France, 2011)
At Berkeley (244', USA, 2013)

Doc Alliance Members

Doc Alliance is a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.