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As part of the ongoing Frederick Wiseman retrospective happening at the Harvard Film Archive,
this week brings us screenings of the Cambridge-based filmmaker's Belfast, Maine (1999) (Sunday 20 Nov. at 6pm) and Titicut Follies (1967) (Monday 21 Nov at 7pm). Belfast, Maine is "serenely composed of the illuminating routines and intimate minutiae" of a New England town, while Titicut Follies, Wiseman's first film (also set in New England, in Massachusetts), "proved so shocking in its unadorned rendering of a state mental institution that it remains the only American film to have been completely censored for reasons other than obscenity or national security."  No matter what slice of American life he chooses to film, Wiseman's documentaries are engrossing - this is a chance to see a part of his panorama of work on a big screen.

In a special event on 2 Dec, the filmmaker will be at the HFA in person to talk about The Last Letter (La Dernier Lettre), his only fiction film. The last movie of the series is State Legsislature on 2 Dec - a film that LEF supported with a Production grant.

The screenings at the HFA coincide with Frederick Wiseman's Phelps Lecture at the Radcliffe Institude for Advanced Study on Dec 1:"Shooting, Editing, and Reading a Documentary Film"

"Frederick Wiseman will discuss—and illustrate with sequences from his films—his approach to documentary filmmaking. He will address choice of subject, fundraising, technical filming
issues, sound recording and editing, analysis of sequences, relation of facts to metaphor and abstraction, and the creation of a dramatic structure. Wiseman will end with a discussion
about how he applies the principles of "close reading" to film." 

The lecture is free and open to the public on Dec 1 at 4pm at the Radcliffe Gymnasium, 10 Garden St. Cambridge MA.

- Nellie

With all of the new documentaries in town this week for the Independent Film Festival Boston (don't miss the LEF-sponsored panel When Does a Story Become a FIlm? From Idea to Documentary), it's also good to remember some older nonfiction films that have been screening at the Harvard Film Archive - the Middletown Film Project, which conclude this Sunday with SEVENTEEN.

We're used to seeing home movie footage, or faked home movie footage, used in all kinds of movies - personal documentaries and fiction film credits come to mind right away, and I'm pretty sure that the opening sequence of Toy Story 3 was an animated home video sequence, which just goes to show what a powerful moviemaking standard they are.

Home Movie Day, on Saturday, October 16, is a unique opportunity to see this most common and beautiful form of non-fiction filmmaking screened in its own right. Audiences can bring their own home movies to show, whether on 16mm, 8mm, super 8 or video (VHS and DVD clips limited to 5 minutes).

New England