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Documentary legend to discuss editing process

September 15, 2006

Photo of Frederick WisemanFrederick Wiseman, a renowned documentary filmmaker, will reveal some secrets of his craft at a lecture presented by SF State's Documentary Film Institute.

Wiseman, hailed as "a master of the epic documentary" by The New York Times, will re-create his editing process and discuss his approach to filmmaking at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.

"The sound and picture of a movie can and should be read as carefully as the choice and order of words in a novel, poem or play," said Wiseman, who serves on the Documentary Film Institute's advisory board, with other filmmaking legends including Ken Burns, Martin Scorsese, Richard Leacock and D.A. Pennebaker.

Wiseman's award-winning documentaries focus on American institutions, including hospitals, public housing, high schools, the welfare system and military. His films, which are aired most frequently on PBS but also shown in theaters, have been seen by millions of people. Wiseman's most recent films include "The Last Letter," "Domestic Violence," "Domestic Violence 2," "La Comédie-Française" and "Ballet."

KQED-FM "Forum" host and SF State English Professor Michael Krasny will moderate the lecture. Wiseman will use clips from a selection of his 35 full-length films -- including "Welfare," "Basic Training," "Law and Order" and "Belfast" -- to help demonstrate his editing process.

"Frederick Wiseman is one of the most illustrious American documentary filmmakers,” said Professor Stephen Ujlaki, director of the Documentary Film Institute and chair of the Cinema Department. "He is passionate about the issue of 'visual literacy,' which is the ability of someone to 'read a film' as one would read a book or play."

Ujlaki notes that visual literacy is gaining importance as more of the general population gets information from audio-visual means rather than reading. "Visual literacy is becoming as important as book literacy," he said.

In addition to the public event, Wiseman will present a private lecture to a cinema class on Sept. 20.

Wiseman's public lecture is presented in partnership with the Film Arts Foundation and San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchased online at TicketWeb or by calling the SF State Box Office at (415) 338-2467.

The event kicks off FutureTense, a series of Documentary Film Institute one-on-one interviews, film screenings and roundtable discussions with significant documentary filmmakers. The Documentary Film Institute is a project of SF State's International Center for the Arts. Established through the generosity of alumni George and Judy Marcus, the center celebrates the world's most innovative art and artists, with a focus on visual and performing arts and documentary film.

-- Matt Itelson


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Last modified September 15, 2006 by University Communications