At Berkeley

November 7, 2013

directed by Frederick Wiseman, 2013


Legendary 83-year-old filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has made a career of putting contemporary institutions under his ever-inquisitive microscope. This is once again the case with his latest documentary, At Berkeley, which documents a semester inside one of America’s most prestigious universities: University of California, Berkeley. Clocking in as one of his longest films at 244 minutes, Wiseman’s latest is, at its core, a sprawling and detailed examination of an institution dealing with fiscal issues in the fall of 2010, a troubled period brought on by a decrease in California’s investment in the university.

Wiseman’s static, probing camera doubles as a window into economic and sociological issues that impact the students (and might even hit close to home for some viewers as well). While diverse in its presentation, the film is fundamentally driven by the notion of exploring a higher-education institution not only looking to maintain academic excellence, but instilling a course of action and thought in its students that aims to combat current economic difficulties. In conjunction with the film’s many classroom scenes, Wiseman shows us members of the university’s upper administration grappling with lowered budgets and the loss of unique staff members. We also observe students on scholarship feeling financial pressure to balance their workload with the threat of living under a less-than-desirable financial base, as debt piles up for these students without the promise of a stable career after graduation.

Read full review at In Review Online


One comment

  1. […] time viewings 1. Bigger than Life (Ray, ’56) 2. 12 Years a Slave (McQueen, ’13) 3. At Berkeley (Wiseman, ’13) 4. U.S. Go Home (Denis, ’94) 5. Neighboring Sounds (Filho, ’12) 6. The Black Dahlia (De […]

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