BELFAST, MAINE is a film about ordinary experience in a beautiful old New England port city. It is a portrait of daily life with particular emphasis on the work and the cultural life of the community. Among the activities shown in the film are the work of lobstermen, tug-boat operators, factory workers, shop owners, city counselors, doctors, judges, policemen, teachers, social workers, nurses and ministers. Cultural activities include choir rehearsal, dance class, music lessons and theatre production.
If Wiseman were a painter, he’d be a pointillist. He groups tiny daubs of color together, working meticulously across a wide canvas. It’s only when you stand back that you see a massive mural taking shape — a mural that tells the story of a town, a society, a whole species.
–Matt Zoller Seitz, Newark Star Ledger
Wiseman captures the town as if he were a cinematic Thornton Wilder.
–Michael Blowen, The Boston Globe
…BELFAST, MAINE is extraordinary in two ways. First, it is an immensely rich and immeasurably valuable microcosm of American life at the end of the twentieth century. Second, and most unexpected, it is a microcosm of Wiseman’s art… It reminds us, movingly, of the persistent strength and beauty of the natural world, which is made to serve the economy; and it pays tribute to the courage and good will of people who go out, day after day, to ease what suffering they can. A fitting summary of Fred Wiseman’s work, and of his life as well.
–Stuart Klawans, The Nation
BELFAST, MAINE…conveys a deeply emotional sense of place, season and time of day. In contrasting the breathtaking landscape with the troubled lives of many of those living there, it reminds us that the fleeting beauties of the natural world the simple pleasures available to all are among life’s deepest consolation.
–Stephen Holden, The New York Times
BELFAST, MAINE stands with the very best of the doc dean’s substantial body of work, a shrewd and meticulous late-October look at the various cells of the living organism that is this small New England port town.
–Eddie Cockrell, Variety