Director Frederick Wiseman joined by Richard Lord, founder/owner of Lord’s Gym (Austin), in attendance for Q&A following the film
Additional screenings with Wiseman and Lord scheduled on Saturday, November 13 at 4:25 PM and 7 PM. Tickets here.
Veteran filmmaker Frederick Wiseman turns his lens and intuition on Austin’s boxing shrine, Lord’s Gym, best known for facilitating Jesus Chavez’s noteworthy rise to WBC and IBF boxing championships earlier this century. Lord's Gym has already been featured in Marcy Garriott's SPLIT DECISION (2001), which chronicles Chavez's battles inside and outside the ring. But it is the day-to-day events in Richard Lord’s gym and boxing ring that have caught Wiseman’s interest. Once inside, the viewer is in another world – not like high school or college gyms, but a hot, relatively small building where bodies sweat, strain, punch, and push themselves beyond former limits. Representing all ethnicities, men and women, children, teens, professional and amateur boxers, and others looking for a strenuous workout come to the gym behind a former Goodwill on N. Lamar Blvd. Without intrusive questions or a particular agenda, Wiseman simply lets us “wander around,” listen in on conversations, watch people exercising, shadow boxing, and sparring. BOXING GYM is a beautiful portrait of an Austin institution and of a sweaty, jarring, often bloody sport that both deserve a lot more respect for the amount of work, concentration, practice, and study that go into creating and molding a high-performance athlete. Forget about “reality TV” and give Wiseman’s “reality cinema” some of your time. You will definitely want to go back and (re)watch some of his earlier accomplishments, too.
Born in 1930, Frederick Wiseman began making films in 1967. He didn’t start out small or slow but instead gave the world a most unsettling portrait of an American mental hospital in TITICUT FOLLIES. The film had a huge influence on the discussion of the treatment of mental illness in institutions. As a kind of silent, observant chronicler of American institutions, Wiseman followed up with documentaries on high school education, hospitals, military training, juvenile courts, the welfare system, meat processing, and 30 other topics. Don’t be tempted to say his style is cinema verite. He doesn’t like it, not necessarily because it badly describes his approach, but because he dislikes high falutin’ descriptions and terms. He is a realist with a remarkable ability to capture hundreds or even thousands of images and then weave them together in the most remarkable way. Once you have seen “a Wiseman,” just like seeing a “Hockney” or a “Warhol,” you never forget. For an hour or so, he takes you into a world he has inhabited for weeks or months with no preconceptions and no conclusions. -- Chale Nafus, Director of Programming, Austin Film Society
Directed and edited by Frederick Wiseman
Cinematography by John Davey
USA, 2010, Zipporah Films, distributed by mTuckman Media, color, 91 min.