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Frederick Wiseman films on DVD

One of the first questions I ever fielded on the floor of Scarecrow Video was if we had a copy of Titicut Follies. After a quick hunt through our database yielded nothing, I asked a co-worker, who promptly informed me that it was not a musical and was in fact one of the best documentaries ever made. Then how come I'd never heard of it? And how come we didn't have it? The co-worker explained the movie was available only for educational use by schools, universities, and libraries and therefore commercial stores like us couldn't get them, at least not easily or cheaply. He told me I was going to get asked about that film a lot and suggested I learn more about the films of Frederick Wiseman.

With the help of the Internet, the wisdom of my colleagues, and discussions with customers looking for his films, I made myself familiar with Wiseman's work. I learned Titicut Follies (1967) was his first film, looks inside the Bridgewater State Prison for the Criminally Insane in Massachusetts, and was banned in the US for years. I saw impressive body of work with short, stark names: Welfare (1975), Hospital (1969), Public Housing (1997), The Store (1983), Ballet (1995). I was told there weren't any voiceovers or interviews or other narration in the films, just direct observation of the subjects themselves. I became particularly curious about High School (1968) after seeing it on a list of 'best high school movies' in Entertainment Weekly and finding its listing while combing through 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. I knew his films were sometimes shown on PBS, but never caught one. It didn't seem likely that I'd get to actually watch any of his films, until now.

Mr. Wiseman's distributor Zipporah Films made his films available for individual purchase back in December. Now, with their generous consent, we have them on our shelves.

We are grateful to everyone at Zipporah for releasing Mr. Wiseman's films on DVD and allowing us to share them the Scarecrow community. There are 23 of his films,from Titicut Follies to 2006's State Legislature currently for rent in our New Release section. We also have several of them for sale.

To learn more about Frederick Wiseman and his films and to buy the DVDs online, visit the Zipporah Films website.

State Legislature State Legislature--photo copyright 2006 Idaho Film, Inc. High School High School--photo copyright 1968 Frederick Wiseman Titicut Follies Titicut Follies--photo copyright 1967 Bridgewater Film Company

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