Frederick Wiseman – Director – In Jackson Heights
FRED’s Matt Micucci interviews one of the most American documentary filmmakers of all time, Frederick Wiseman, who presented his latest masterwork IN JACKSON HEIGHTS out of competition at the 72nd Venice Film Festival – the edition which followed the one in which he was awarded with Venice’s lifetine achievement award.
He talks about Jackson Heights, a neighborhood in New York City defined by many cultural identities, and his distinctively observant style is a way for the viewer to explore the nature of its microcosm. Frederick Wiseman talks to us about the way in which he works and chooses the things to film in order to create an excellent portrayal of his subjects, but also his opinion on the manipulative nature of the documentary form.
IN JACKSON HEIGHTS: Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse communities in the United States and the world.
There are immigrants from every country in South America, Mexico, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and China. Some are citizens, some have green cards, some are without documents. The people who live in Jackson Heights, in their cultural, racial and ethnic diversity, are representative of the new wave of immigrants to America.
Some of the issues the film raises— assimilation, integration, immigration and cultural and religious differences—are common to all the major cities of the Western world. The subject of the film is the daily life of the people in this community—their businesses, community centers, religions, and political, cultural and social lives— and the conflict between maintaining ties to traditions of the countries of origin and the need to learn and adapt to American ways and values.
This is Frederick Wiseman’s third film in a trilogy about communities, the others being Aspen and Belfast, Maine. In these films, as in all his films, he is trying to present a broad and complex portrait of contemporary life.