City government touches almost every aspect of our lives. Most of us are unaware of or take for granted these necessary services such as police, fire, sanitation, veterans affairs, elder support, parks, licensing of various professional activities, record keeping of birth, marriage and death as wells as hundreds of other activities that support Boston residents and visitors. CITY HALL, by Frederick Wiseman, shows the efforts by Boston city government to provide these services. The film also illustrates the variety of ways the city administration enters into civil discourse with the citizens of Boston. Mayor Walsh and his administration are presented addressing a number of their policy priorities which include racial justice, affordable housing, climate action, and homeless. CITY HALL shows a city government successfully offering a wide variety of services to a diverse population.
© 2020 Puritan Films, LLC. A Zipporah Films Release.
Funding for the film was provided by:
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Pershing Square Foundation
LEF Moving Image Fund
Richard & Peggy Greenfield Foundation
Utah Film Center – fiscal sponsor
Essential viewing. Frederick Wiseman is American cinema’s foremost sociological auteur. Even at the age of 90, Wiseman continues to churn out non-fiction gems like no other, and that definitely holds true with regards to his latest, CITY HALL… a sprawling panorama of government and community work… Proves a celebration of the power of storytelling to unite—and, also, a masterful example of it.
–Nick Schager, Daily Beast
America would be a better place if everyone watched… exhilarating… a rich tapestry of Boston in argument with itself. A vibrant half-day hangout with democracy in action.
–David Ehrlich, IndieWire
Wiseman returns to the kind of vibrant, diverse, urban, East Coast community he charted in EX LIBRIS or JACKSON HEIGHTS, and the energy is palpable… probably Wiseman’s most topical documentary to date.
–Lee Marshall, Screen International
Formidable and incisive… engrossing.
–Keith Uhlich, SLANT
Critic’s Pick. Magisterial… An exploration of civil society and the common good… Wiseman has answered that laugh line (‘The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help’ – Ronald Reagan) and its cruelty with a titanic body of work that – meeting by meeting, institution by institution – serves as a powerful refutation. His is the art of resistance at its finest.
–Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Serenely and thrillingly observant… [Wiseman] turns bureaucratic procedure into a kind of poetry, and finds both comedy and profundity in the banal idioms of governance. CITY HALL also provides a powerful and precise account of what democracy looks like beyond the rhetoric of campaigns.
–A. O. Scott, The New York Times