The National Gallery documentary
The season kicks off on the 3rd with Frederick Wiseman's National Gallery, a film that gives an insight into one of the richest collections of art in the world. Wisemen spent twelve weeks in the gallery over 2012, filming everything he came across.
Three hours in length, National Gallery is presented entirely in fly-on-the-wall style, following staff, contractors and visitors around the vast cultural complex. This is filmmaking as understated as it is lushly colourful, casting a droll eye on the workings of one of the UK's most important artistic institutions.
Managers discuss the government’s austerity measures and their funding cuts while guests marvel at the blockbuster Leonardo da Vinci exhibition. Tour guides attempt to marshal sportive children while, underneath the exhibits, restorers work with intense vigour to keep the gallery’s paintings pristine. With a focus on the gallery’s sublime holdings in the Old Masters, Wiseman presents masterpieces both famed and obscure, largely in terms of the museum staff’s interactions with them. Curators display their deep knowledge and passion for the art they work around.
Filmmaker Frederick Wiseman
Amongst his other achievements in fiction film and theatre, Frederick Wiseman is a pioneer of observational cinema. His documentaries take reams and reams of quietly taken footage and painstakingly assemble them to create something personal and aesthetically moving; the unstaged footage becomes a semi-dramatic work.
There is no narration, on-screen text or talking head interviews. Wiseman’s acclaimed recent films have all been similar in form and structure, opening up institutions like the Idaho State Legislature, the Ballet de l’Opéra National de Paris and Berkeley University.
Curzon Bloomsbury: The Exhibitionists
Also being screened are films looking at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum and Moscow's Hermitage. The documentaries on the Rijksmuseum and the Kunsthistorisches Museum run in interesting parallel as both offer a behind the scenes view of the extensive renovation and re-branding that both museums have undergone in the past decade. Margy Kinmonth's Hermitage Revealed was produced to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Moscow's great museum.
All four films will be screening at the Bertha Dochouse, in the new Curzon Bloomsbury. With an eclectic schedule of master-classes, seasons and festivals to complement screenings of cutting-edge contemporary docs, the DocHouse hopes to become an international centre for documentaries as well a as a hangout for documentary aficionados: with a personal viewing area, visitors can watch hundreds of films from the DocHouse archive for free.
Click here to book tickets for The Exhibitionists season.
|What||The Exhibitionists, Bertha Dochouse|
|Where||Bertha Dochouse, The Brunswick, London, WC1N 1AW | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Acton Town (underground)|
03 May 15 – 27 May 15, various times
|Price||£9, £7 Conscessions|
|Website||Click here to book via the Dochouse website.|