High School (1968 film)

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High School
Directed by Frederick Wiseman
Release dates
  • May 1968 (1968-05)
Running time 75 minutes
Country United States
Language English

High School is a 1968 American documentary film directed by Frederick Wiseman that shows a typical day for a group of students at Northeast High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was one of the first direct cinema (or cinéma vérité) documentaries. It was shot over five weeks in March and April 1968. The film was banned from Philadelphia for a number of years for its depiction of high-schoolers as oppressed.[1] Few Northeast students, faculty or administrators actually saw the film, so this perception was largely based on hearsay, newspaper editorials and anger at not being able to see the film.[citation needed]

The film was released in October 1968 by Wiseman's distribution company, Zipporah Films. It was largely well received by the principal and board of education, who found it mostly accurate, but the principal, Mabel Haller, announced that she wanted the right to edit the film, since she felt parts of it were taken out of context. For example, one scene shows an English Literature class listening to records while students in the back row are sleeping. In fact, the desks in classroom were pushed together to make room for the film crew and the teacher, Mrs. London, was told not to try to lecture that day. As a result of similar controversies and alleged misrepresentations, the film has never been screened in Philadelphia. But like most of Wiseman's films, High School has been aired on PBS Television. Wiseman distributes his work (DVDs and 16mm prints) through Zipporah Films, which rents them to high schools, colleges, and libraries on a five-year long-term lease. High School was selected in 1991 for preservation in the National Film Registry.[2]

Wiseman made a second documentary on high school, High School II, based on Central Park East Secondary School in New York City, released in 1994.

See also[edit]


3. Ellsworth, Liz. Frederick Wiseman: A Guide to References and Resources. Boston, MA: G.K.Hall & Co., 1979. Print. 4. Rosenthal, Alan. The New Documentary In Action: A Casebook in Film Making. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1971. Print. 5. Grant, Barry Keith. "Five films by Frederick Wiseman" University of California Press, 2006. Print.

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