At Berkeley

Screening on Film
Directed by Frederick Wiseman.
US, 2013, DCP, color, 244 min.
DCP source: Zipporah Films

Wiseman’s panoramic portrait discloses the internal workings of a giant entity that not only exemplifies many fundamental American ideals at work, but also seems to come startlingly close to striking a balance between the human and the institution. Wiseman’s visit coincides with a fragile point when state funding was dramatically disappearing from the University of California at Berkeley’s coffers. Under this pressure, the university still manages to increase financial aid to a newly threatened middle class, admit the largest number of low-income students in their history, and persuade faculty to take pay cuts in order to save hundreds of lower-paid staff positions. Remaining influenced by the area’s famously freethinking Sixties heyday, the community at Berkeley appears to earnestly strive to be inclusive and egalitarian while retaining its academic rigor. The four hours clip along, moving from frank discussions on unconscious racism to PhD students troubleshooting their prototype for a machine that enables the paralyzed to walk. Mirroring Wiseman’s similarly lucid lens, Berkeley’s conscientious, progressive approach to education does raise the optimistic possibility that a number of these passionate thinkers may indeed change the world.

Part of program

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2018 Norton Lectures in Cinema:
Frederick Wiseman

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