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Welfare

Director:

USA. 1975; 167mins


Welfare is one of the most provocative and understated of Wiseman’s institutional examinations. Shot in a New York City welfare office, the documentary, in seemingly interminable shots, chronicles the frustration and pain of abject welfare recipients who spend their time sitting and waiting, or being shunted from office to office, as the degrading milieu of the welfare system grinds on.The nature and complexity of the welfare system is examined by sequences illustrating the staggering diversity of problems that constitute welfare: housing, unemployment, divorce, medical and psychiatric problems, abandoned and abused children, and the elderly. These issues are presented in a context where welfare workers as well as the clients are struggling to cope with and interpret the laws and regulations that govern their work and life.

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