A speech at the Greater Boston Food Bank in City Hall - still from 'City Hall' (2020) Zipporah Films, Inc.
A speech at the Greater Boston Food Bank in City Hall - still from 'City Hall' (2020) Zipporah Films, Inc.
City Hall (2020) Zipporah Films, Inc.

Presented by ACMI in association with Sydney Film Festival and NFSA

City Hall

Frederick Wiseman | U.S.A. | 2020 | Unclassified (All Ages)

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ACMI Member



Sun 22 May 2022

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In this epic film, Frederick Wiseman continues his lifelong project to observe the inner workings of American institutions – at a time when public faith in them appears to be waning.

This is both one of the best movies of the year and one of the most complete and compelling observations of the inner workings of city government... that I have ever experienced.


Between autumn 2018 and winter 2019, Wiseman was embedded in his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, where he observed city hall’s day-to-day operations. Tasks range from dealing with parking infringements to stray dogs; community events to waterfront developments; law enforcement to policy making. The most visible face of the government is Mayor Martin J. (‘Marty’) Walsh, a former construction worker and union leader. Walsh is a friend to the environment and champion of human rights. His administration’s policies are strikingly at odds with then-President Trump – making the film particularly heartening.

With his trademark observational style, Wiseman captures democracy in action and documents an organisation striving to do the right thing against difficult odds.

A reminder that government, for all its speed bumps and snags, can work. It can help. The people running it just have to want it to.

Jason Bailey, The Playlist

Format: DCP
Language: English
Source: Zipporah Films, Inc.
Courtesy: Zipporah Films, Inc.
Runtime: 272 min

Event duration

272 mins


Unclassified (All Ages)


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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It Takes Time: Ten Films by Frederick Wiseman

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A Frederick Wiseman masterclass – online

Complement your in-cinema viewing of It Takes Time: Ten Films by Frederick Wiseman with a Wiseman Masterclass, hosted for a limited time on ACMI’s online platform, Cinema 3.

Recorded in May 2022 exclusively for the Frederick Wiseman retrospective at ACMI, the Sydney Film Festival and NFSA over Winter 2022, the masterclass features a lively and in-depth conversation with the prolific Wiseman, moderated by Australian documentary film director and producer, Ian Darling.

An informative, generous-spirited, and expansive conversation that will interest and excite students, makers and aficionados of ‘reality fiction’ alike.

Frederick Wiseman by Adrien Toubiana

Get multipasses to this film program

3 session pass – $33–45
6 session pass – $66–84
10 session pass – $100–120

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