Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

  • USA
  • STC
  • Frederick Wiseman

Master of the observational film, Frederick Wiseman, in his latest epic, explores the aftermath of domestic violence in all its manifestations. Wiseman took his camera from the neighbourhoods of Tampa, Florida, where the officers on the front lines regularly intervene in domestic disputes, to “the Spring,” a shelter in which women and their children try to heal. True to form, Wiseman is always patient and respectful: he never mediates with titles or narration, and allows the women, children, counselors and social workers tell their own stories in their own words. It’s a strategy that serves to very quickly shatter our pre-conceived notions of the players. Where once there were stereotypes, we discover the victims of violence to be educated, articulate, and insightful, and their physical and emotional wounds are only made more acute by the awareness that they are caught in a vicious cycle of abuse from which escape is not easy. But Wiseman is not so bleak as to suggest that their plight is hopeless: throughout the film, we are struck by the resilience and determination of the women and their caseworkers, slowly ascending from their nightmares toward a vision of brighter days ahead. “Domestic Violence is one of [Wiseman’s] greatest films. The film’s structure, painstakingly wrought, yet as seamless as always, gives form to [the] tension between hope and despair… [It] is dense with unforgettable images, passages and vignettes.” - Kent Jones, Film Comment. Shawn Postoff.

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