Presented by ACMI in association with Sydney Film Festival and NFSA
High School II
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A tradition-busting New York City classroom provides an absorbing and optimistic setting for Frederick Wiseman’s second film looking at the American high school system.
Each episode of High School II creates a tiny drama of its own, until the film assumes the breadth of a mini-series and the fascination of a trenchant novel of manners.
Twenty-five years after he focused his gaze on a lower-middle class school in Philadelphia, Wiseman went uptown, in 1992, to Central Park East Secondary School in Spanish Harlem, New York. Here, learning is not by rote and students are actively engaged in the education process. Scenes of informal discussions between students and teachers, staff meetings and family conferences reveal how this progressive institution’s alternative approach eschews authoritarian teaching. Instead, students are encouraged to deepen their thinking and talk openly. Conflict resolution is on the roster, as are techniques for putting on condoms. King Lear draws comparison with a crime family. Immigration law provokes raucous debate.
READ: The Art of Documentary No. 1
Lola Peploe, The Paris Review, Sep 2018
LISTEN: Legendary U.S. documentarian Frederick Wiseman
The Screen Show, Jun 2022