CFF: HIGH SCHOOL 45th Anniversary


Wednesday, April 17, 7:30 PM
45th Anniversary Screening

One of the pioneers of direct cinema (not that he’d admit to it), acclaimed filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has been documenting a wide variety of social institutions since 1967.  From the “criminally insane” hospital inmates of TITICUT FOLLIES (1967) to the struggling, high-end Parisian dancers in CRAZY HORSE (2001), Wiseman has always approached his subjects from the perspective of a fly on the wall, unobtrusive yet deeply penetrating.

HIGH SCHOOL (1968), Wiseman’s second feature as director/producer, focuses upon the students and 
faculty of Philadelphia’s Northeast High School.  It was filmed during a turbulent time when Americans were questioning the validity of the Vietnam War, which was escalating towards a ground war thanks to Lyndon Johnson’s Operation Rolling Thunder, and riots were breaking out following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  1968 was the year in which the first season of The Wonder Years was set, though High School eschews heartwarming life lessons in favor of hard-nosed reality.  From the classroom to the gymnasium, the principal’s office to the schoolyard, Wiseman provides a valuable glimpse into the era when students began standing up to both teachers and conformity.

HIGH SCHOOL wasn’t shown in Philadelphia until 2001, the result of vague threats from the schoolboard that Wiseman heeded in an effort to avoid legal action (he was already involved in a lawsuit from the state of Massachusetts concerning his previous film, TITICUT FOLLIES).  Stories surrounding this “banned film” circulated throughout Philadelphia for decades as it gained a The Day the Clown Cried-like mystique.  No longer relegated to bootlegs or the occasional PBS screening, Philly has embraced this masterpiece of documentary filmmaking and the CFF is proud to celebrate its 45th anniversary. (EB)

Advance tix are $10, no refunds or exchanges.

The Cinedelphia Film Festival is a Philly-centric celebration of Philly film running from April 4-27, 2013.

(via CFF: HIGH SCHOOL 45th Anniversary)