In City Hall (2020), Frederick Wiseman’s career and his long-time dissection of American institutions reach a sort of a synthesis. His depiction of the everyday happening around the mayor of Boston and his simultaneous portrayal of the functioning of the local community on various levels (through the work of dustmen, veterinarians, roadmen etc.) allow the director to capture the functioning of the city as a complex urban ecosystem in general. In Wiseman’s direct, relatively raw representation of the formal and informal connections and discussions between the citizens, the article recognizes a modern reformulation of what the sociologist Durkheim named organic solidarity – the social cohesion based on diversity, co-dependency and the division of labour. The optimistic portrayal of American society and local community in the Trump era inevitably also adds political undertones to the film.
The integral version of this article can be found in the printed KINO!