As he unveils Crazy Horse in Venice, Wiseman talks about new project about a large university.
Celebrated 81-year-old US documentary maker Frederick Wiseman, whose new documentary Crazy Horse (about the famed cabaret club in Paris) is screening in Venice, has revealed details of his next project. Likely to be called University or At Berkeley, the film is a verite-style documentary about the running of the Univesity of California - Berkeley.
“It’s about how a large university is run - about student life and academic life. The University Of California, which is one of the great universities of the world, has had its budgets cut severely because of the recession. Berkeley used to get 65% of its budget from the State (of California.) It now gets 10%,” Wiseman said of the project. “There were a lot of meetings about how to deal with the financial crisis and they let me in on these meetings.”
Wiseman has already shot many hours of footage and is contemplating making two separate films from his material.
Crazy Horse (handled internationally by Celluloid Dreams) is also expected to screen at the BFI London Film Festival. It opens theatrically in Paris in early October (through Sophie Dulac Distribution). A deal has also been closed for Japan (Showgate).
Wiseman first visited the Crazy Horse in 1957. He had been taken there by his father-in-law. “I thought it was an amusing place. There were a lot of beautiful girls doing erotic dances.”
He returned in the spring of 2009 when he first began to contemplate making the doc about the club, founded in 1951 by Alain Bernadin. The ownership had changed since his first visit but, he says, “the spirit was the same.”
In the film, Wiseman follows a new show being put together by well-known choreographer, Philippe Decouflé. He points out that there are few cabaret clubs which match the “classiness or elegance” of the Crazy Horse. “The dancers at the Crazy Horse, most of them, are trained in dance ballet conservatoires and are just not good enough to get into major dance companies…the women who work there are good dancers. They happen to dance some extent naked.”