Public Housing


Frederick Wiseman

PUBLIC HOUSING documents daily life at the Ida B. Wells public housing development in Chicago. The film illustrates some of the experiences of people living in conditions of extreme poverty. Events shows include the work of the tenants council, street life, the role of police, job training programs, drug education, teenage mothers, dysfunctional families, elderly residents, nursery school and after school teenage programs and the activities of the city, state and federal governments in maintaining and changing public housing.


Issues that are all too familiar — drugs, crime, teenage pregnancy, the frustrations caused by government red tape — take on new immediacy thanks to the extraordinary intimacy of Mr. Wiseman’s working methods. Through one revealing, well-chosen episode after another, he succeeds in turning sad generalities into powerfully affecting specifics.

The New York Times

…Wiseman salts his film with example after example of pride and enterprise. For every long-lens shot of men on the corner snorting cocaine, there are shots of chess games, sewing circles and laundry hung lovingly on the line. For every bureaucratese-speaking clerk from CHA, there is a sympathetic plumber or a roach exterminator who can’t do enough for an appreciative tenant.… Frederick Wiseman… has an eye for subtle social distinctions.

The Chicago Tribune

Original title: Public Housing

Production: Zipporah Films Inc.

Nationality: USA

Year of production: 1997

Running time: 195'

Language: English




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