Titicut Follies

Directed by Frederick Wiseman. 84 minutes. Not Rated. English.

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Amherst Cinema and Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts are honored to welcome Academy Award winning director Frederick Wiseman in person for a screening of his classic TITICUT FOLLIES on April 8th at 7pm.


Released in 1967, TITICUT FOLLIES is director Frederick Wiseman's first film and begins the examination of large institutions common in his early work. The film is a stark and graphic portrayal of the conditions that existed at the State Prison for the Criminally Insane at Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

When the film was released few Americans knew what was going on at such institutions.  Functioning without a narrator or commentary, the film is unflinching in its portrayal of the lived reality of inmates at the time.  Not without controversy upon release, Wiseman had to fight for the right to screen his film with it being banned until the early 1990's.  TITICUT FOLLIES remains a disturbing and unforgettable film experience.

Presented in collaboration with Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA)

About Frederick Wiseman:

Frederick Wiseman is one of today’s greatest living documentary filmmakers. For decades, thanks to the Public Broadcast Service (PBS), he has created an exceptional body of work consisting of over thirty full length films devoted primarily to exploring American institutions.

The institutions that Wiseman examined early in his career – a hospital, a high school, army basic training, a welfare center, a police precinct – have “problems” that the filmmaker uncovers. His approach reveals the profound acknowledged and unacknowledged conformity and inequality of American society. Wiseman’s films are also a reflection on democracy. What do his films portray, the “American dream” or the “air conditioned nightmare?" Both, but also a questioning of the world and of existence.

“Documentaries, like theatre pieces, novels or poems are forms of fiction,” claims Wiseman. Over the years his films have become more a skillful mix of observation, testimony, reflection, an absence of prejudice, and courage, and humor. A complex body of work, as great works of fiction (novels, drama, music, and film) can be, with the same profundity, contradictions, and questions without answers.

In 2016 Frederick was awarded the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement.  The Honorary award is an Oscar® statuette given “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”


"Photos courtesy of Zipporah Films, Inc. More information about the films of Frederick Wiseman can be found at www.zipporah.com."

Portrait of Frederick Wiseman by Erik Madigan Heck.

These films were preserved by the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center from original camera negatives in the Zipporah Films Collection.


Additional Information:

This film is available with hearing assist


 This film is available with T-Coil

Audio Description, Closed Captioning and T-Coil are not available in the Studio Theater.  For more information check our accessibility page.