IDFA - Monrovia, Indiana
Frederick Wiseman / US, 2018 / 143 min.
While crops grow, ripen and are harvested in the surrounding farmland, life goes on according to its own rhythm in the little town of Monrovia (population 1,063). The now 88-year-old director Frederick Wiseman, who received IDFA’s first Living Legend Award in 2009, leads us through the town in his familiar observational style.
He takes us to a meeting of the town council as it quarrels about the construction of a new neighbourhood, to a marriage in one of the churches, and to a funeral. We visit the liquor store, the gun store and the supermarket, the local Freemasons and the Lions” Club. There's also the local gymnasium, which serves as both the stage for a concert by the youth orchestra and later as a place for a mattress sale. Gradually Wiseman creates a nuanced view of everyday life that's based on community service, duty, spiritual life and generosity, but that sometimes validates the stereotypes we have of rural America. It”s a way of life that has long been ignored in the big U.S. cities and elsewhere in the world, but that has clearly made its influence felt in recent years.