1930-, American documentary filmmaker, b. Boston, grad. Williams College (B.A., 1951), Yale Law School (L.L.B., 1954). Wiseman practiced and taught law for about a decade, but his real interests lay elsewhere. His first film, Titicut Follies
(1967), is a harrowingly realistic look at a Massachusetts state hospital for the criminally insane. With this work, he became known as a cinéma vérité
master possessed of keen socio-psychological insights. His next films reveal a pervasive dehumanization as they examine various American institutions through the portrayal of a single example; they include High School
(1970), Juvenile Court
(1973), and Welfare
(1975). Some later films, such as Model
(1980), The Store
(1983), Central Park
(1990), and Ballet
(1995), explore other sorts of people and places. Wiseman also entered the world of the physically challenged in three mid-1980s works. Wiseman is usually the producer-director and sometimes a writer, editor, or actor for his many films, which are mostly black and white, with neither narration nor musical soundtracks, and eschew editorialization. Wiseman has also occasionally made fictional works: The Stunt Man
(1980), Seraphita's Diary
(1982), and The Last Letter
See studies by T. R. Atkins, ed. (1976), T. W. Benson and C. Anderson (1989, rev. ed. 2002), and B. K. Grant (1992).
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