The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking is to present its 2012 Legacy Award to 1967 doc Titicut Follies, the debut effort from director Frederick Wiseman (pictured), which shocked audiences upon its release for portraying the conditions that existed at a State Prison for the Criminally Insane in Massachusetts.
The doc was so controversial upon its release in the Sixties that the state fought for many years to have the film banned. Forty-four years later, it seems Wiseman still has the power to cause controversy: last month the choice of his latest doc, Crazy Horse, as the opener for the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) caused a minor uproar among documentary filmmakers.
Wiseman will accept the award for Titicut Folilies at the 5th Annual Cinema Eye Honors ceremony in New York on January 11.
“It’s hard for me to believe that Titicut Follies was shot 46 years ago,” said Wiseman in a statement. “I’m thrilled to receive the Cinema Eye Legacy Award, but it is tough for me to deal with the implications.”
After the award, a ‘Stranger than Fiction’ screening of the film will be held the following week, on January 17, at the IFC Center, on the eve of the opening of Crazy Horse.
“Few filmmakers – in fiction or non-fiction – have created such an enduring body of work that is also, uniquely, their own, as Frederick Wiseman,” said Cinema Eye’s advisory chair Andrea Meditch. “The legacy of Titicut Follies stands as a beacon to all of today’s filmmakers for its unflinching honesty and the lingering power of John Marshall’s camera and Wiseman’s editing.”
This third Legacy Award follows the two given previously to Ross McElwee’s Sherman’s March and the Maysles Brothers’ Grey Gardens.