At Berkeley

Dec 06 - Dec 12, 2013

(Frederick Wiseman, United States, 2013, 244 min)

Frederick Wiseman’s X-ray portraits of complex worlds like zoos, high schools, emergency rooms and ballet companies have, over 45 years, produced a thrilling and labyrinthine portrait of life as collectively lived in institutional worlds. Now in his 83rd year, Wiseman has turned his gaze on the microcosm of the world that is a large college campus.

In At Berkeley, Wiseman turns his lens on the eponymous University of California campus, a place that led the student radicalism movement of the 1960s, and whose present reputation includes a high rank among research schools and severe challenges due to recent state budget cuts. Over four hours, Wiseman immerses us in the world of the university, including perspectives from students, faculty and administrators, giving us a living, breathing feel for the texture of everyday life in academia (filmed at a point in history where the everyday has become itself a subject of increasing fascination for academic study).

"an effective, organic way to capture the sense of a place. . .anyone who cares about documentary filmmaking, or about the state of public higher education, will find themselves quietly dazzled" —Seattle Times

"Of course, it's fascinating. . .At Berkeley pins down a series of moments—some powerfully humane, others chillingly corporate—that are individually rich with substance and steadily accumulate into something more. Surprises are rife. . .I went in expecting small human moments and was confronted by the highly theatrical performances people give in real life. . .Go, watch, wander out when you need to, but come back, because it's great." —The Stranger

"It will take Wiseman just over four hours to burrow through the layers of life at Cal, and the length allows him to challenge your expectations of what a 21st-century university must be like. . .the cumulative effect of At Berkeley is a ringing appreciation of discourse itself. . .the movie is insightful in its depiction of the value of people sitting together in rooms and talking." —Seattle Weekly


'At Berkeley' Trailer from The Playlist on Vimeo.

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