Monrovia, Indiana

Frederick Wiseman
USA 2018
143 min

Since the last US presidential elections, a whole slew of documentaries got made that look at rural and small town cultures in Corn Belt and Steel Belt states: the areas that statistically made the difference in favor of Trump, the most widely-seen of those is certainly the late Anthony Bourdain’s urgent cri de cœur PARTS UNKNOWN: WEST VIRGINIA (2018, Morgan Fallon), the most formally severe and contemplative Frederick Wiseman’s MONROVIA, INDIANA. While the humanist chef went to a state that until relatively recently voted reliably Democratic, the modern day John Ford chose a true Republican bastion. Who are these people? They are decent and generous in the noblest American sense. But they cherish life’s beauty in ways different from those of East and West Coast denizens. Wiseman’s genius lies in the way he presents these values in purely cinematic terms, most importantly: how he stresses the time it takes to do certain things, like taking care for an animal’s life. Places one would expect to see including church and gun shop are accounted for – but after MONROVIA, INDIANA one will never think of them in the same blunt and self-righteous fashion that indeed we adopted vis-à-vis this world. We will be humbled. (Olaf Möller)

  • John Davey
  • Frederick Wiseman
  • Frederick Wiseman
Civic Film, Karen Konicek

Doc & Film International

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