City Hall

Director: Frederick Wiseman
Country: USA

Regional Premiere
2020 | 272 min. | English
FSK 18

Camera_ John Davey Producer_ Frederick Wiseman, Karen Konicek Rights_ Zipporah Films

From the fire brigade, to the citizen's office, to the senior welfare office: documentary maestro Wiseman surveys the Boston administration. And gives hope for American democracy in spite of Trump.

What does democracy mean? Apart from elections every few years, what processes does it actually entail? Frederick Wiseman, whose first films could already be discovered in Mannheim in the 1960s, returns with a work that could hardly be more topical: a look at the functioning of a Democrat-ruled city on the east coast of the USA. City Hall takes its time to reveal the inner workings of this city’s administration. He accompanies the genuinely committed mayor to meetings with city employees, representatives of the business community, and senior citizens in poverty. The film isn’t only interested in the powerful, but also in the complexity of the machinery. We inspect a house alongside the building authorities, watch people in need who ask for lenience on their parking tickets and receive help. A calming, heartening film.


The film career of US director Frederick Wiseman spans more than five decades. After more than 40 films, for the most part documentaries, he received the Golden Lion in Venice for his life’s work in 2014, as well as an Honorary Oscar in 2016. Four years and three films later, the nonagenarian
is still at work.