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Ex Libris: The New York Public Library

Director: Frederick Wiseman, 2017, USA, 197 min, Cert 18 (TBA)

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Sun 11 February // 13:00 (SOLD OUT)

Tickets: £6 (full price) £5 (concessions/library staff)

Frederick Wiseman’s Oscar nominated film, EX LIBRIS –The New York Public Library, goes behind the scenes of one of the greatest knowledge institutions in the world to reveal it as a place of welcome, cultural exchange and learning.

Its photogenic Fifth Avenue main branch has served as a backdrop in numerous films from Breakfast at Tiffany's to Ghostbusters. But with Ex Libris, Wiseman observes many more unseen layers. With 92 branches the library is committed to being a resource for all the inhabitants of this multifaceted and cosmopolitan city, and beyond.

Scenes of citizens taking advantage of the library's Braille classes and book clubs are juxtaposed against gala fundraising and boardroom decision-making. The film takes full advantage of the library's guest speakers, capturing snatches of public conversations with authors Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, Ta-Nehisi Coates and others.

Frederick Wiseman has described his documentaries as "reality fictions" and frequently compares his art to novel writing. Newcomers to Wiseman should be mindful that his methodology is to show, not tell, what's going on, leaving viewers to do their own thinking about what's onscreen. His body of work is an institution of its own.

***** Guardian

Courtesy of Zipporah Films.