In Deptford CInema’s Unseen in 2018 season, we bring to you the cream of the crop of those films released last year that we feel deserved a bigger audience. The chosen films come from a variety of filmmakers and genres, but all display a unique vision.
dir. Frederick Wiseman
run-time. 197 min
EX LIBRIS: The New York Public Library (2018)
The latest documentary from legendary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, Ex Libris invites you to spend three hours behind the scenes at the New York Public Library. Turning his curious eye to one of the world’s greatest institutions of learning, Wiseman offers a captivating and engrossing portrait of this incredible resource of knowledge and community support for all of New York’s inhabitants, no matter what their social status or ethnicity.
Taking us inside board meetings, talks with guest speakers, book club events and donors’ dinners, as well as the day-to-day activities of lending books, Ex Libris is a wonderful reminder of the central role libraries play in communities everywhere.
Do not be put off by the lengthy runtime; there are fascinating side trips to some of its 94 branches, such as Lincoln Centre’s Library for the Performing Arts, the Mid-Manhattan Library’s renown picture collection, and the Braille and Talking Book Library in Lower Manhattan. Most of the visits focus on a community activity or guest speaker (including Patti Smith, Elvis Costello and Richard Dawkins) about an eclectic range of topics – from sexual innuendo at Jewish delicatessens to the logistics of deaf interpretation at theatrical events.
With more than forty films under his belt, Wiseman is still directing films at the age of 87. His subjects have ranged from medical experimentation on monkeys to the Parisian Crazy Horse night club. There are movies about ballet companies, high schools, domestic violence, and one that demonstrates how animals in the pasture wind up our plate. Even in a slaughterhouse, Wiseman is instinctively aware of what an assembly line can do to those who toil there. Wiseman’s Ex Libris runs in the same vein, a perceptive documentary of real humanity, and a fascinating record of our need and desire for knowledge.
The screening will be in two parts – with a discussion about the crisis facing UK libraries, with contributions from local library campaigners.