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Director: Frederick Wiseman
2018, USA, 143 minutes, Digital, G
Founded in 1834, Monrovia, Indiana (pop: 1063) is a small farming community that might be passed over en route to larger cities like Indianapolis or Fort Wayne. Yet 46 million Americans live in rural towns like Monrovia, once the backbone of American life. In his 44th film (the 13th premiering at Film Forum), master documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman trains his legendary camera on the town, exploring its conflicting stereotypes and illustrating how values like community service, duty, spiritual life, and generosity are lived – Christian sermons, a freemason ceremony, industrial agricultural work, a town council ruling on expanded development, and gun shop talk. All punctuated by cinematographer John Davey’s stunning, big-sky Midwestern landscapes. The importance of rural America as a formative center of American politics and values was demonstrated in the 2016 presidential election; MONROVIA, INDIANA provides a window into a way of life that, although central to this country’s history, is often overlooked by city dwellers.
“One of Wiseman’s most beautiful films. Wiseman’s postcard from the Midwest detects the lengthening shadows beyond the all-American sunshine. It is in fact a hallmark of Wiseman’s open-text films that multiple readings apply… the procedural and the symbolic and the unanswered and yes, the humorous all come nested within one another…Wisemans comic sense is as wicked as ever.”
– Nicolas Rapold, Film Comment