Frederick Wiseman Finishes 'Community Trilogy' With 'In Jackson Heights'

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"'In Jackson Heights' rounds out [documentarian Frederick] Wiseman's 'community' trilogy, which includes 1991's 'Aspen' and 1999's 'Belfast, Maine,'" explains Manori Ravindran. "The three-hour film is a portrait of the Queens, New York neighborhood, which is said to be one of the most diverse in the world.

"Once again, with his inconspicuous style devoid of narration or talking heads, Wiseman quietly observes residents negotiating what the neighborhood means to them, whether it's a transgender immigrant protesting discrimination at a restaurant, small business owners bemoaning the encroaching competition of a Gap factory outlet during a Business Improvement District (BID) meeting, or members of the Latino community's Make the Road New York advocacy group sharing their experiences of immigration to the U.S.

"Wiseman again secures impressive access in Jackson Heights, delving into prayers at a local mosque as well as a meat shop, where he documents in bloody detail the preparation of halal meat. Later, he films the anguish of small business owners worried about possible evictions.

"'I won’t say I make obviously political films,' says Wiseman. 'I had no idea I was going to get that kind of material before I made the film. I had never heard of a BID before. I was in Jackson Heights for a month and it was something I came across because I met some of the young people going around to the small businesses and I followed them.'" To read the full interview, click here.

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