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Spend Four Hours At Berkeley on PBS–And No, It’s Not Just the Sixties Revisited

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PBS Independent Lens At Berkeley


Just saying the word “Berkeley” immediately brings thoughts of hippies, the peace movement, free speech and the Sixties to mind – but as Frederick Wiseman’s award-winning documentary of the famous (and to some, infamous) university in California, Berkeley is much more than any of those clichés can even come close to describing. At Berkeley is both the story of a controversial college and its impact on culture, civil rights, science and education, and a true “reality” show about daily life on and around campus for students, staff, alumni and the city, state and government officials who help keep this public university running.

At Berkeley is part of the Independent Lens series and will premiere on most PBS stations at 10pm Eastern Time on Monday, January 13.

At Berkeley is the 40th film by legendary director Frederick Wiseman, and was named co-winner of the National Society of Film Critics award for Best Non-Fiction Film of 2013. While perhaps best recorded and viewed over two or more sittings due to its length (four hours) and late airing (10 pm until 2 am, and on a Monday night no less), At Berkeley is a fascinating, intriguing and even surprising dissection of what is in effect a giant living creature – the University of California at Berkeley. It is a society and a civilization unto itself, a universe of people, organizations and communities that revolve around the campus.

There are no scripted re-enactments, talking heads or preachy narrators here. Wiseman lets his subjects tell their own story by following their daily routes, from teaching in to cleaning up the classrooms. There is some humor and a good deal of drama in Wiseman’s film, as like so many public institutions of higher learning Berkeley, too, is struggling to stay alive in hard times that are made only harder by massive cuts in the government funding upon which it depends.

At Berkeley is part of the Independent Lens series and will premiere on most PBS stations at 10pm Eastern Time on Monday, January 13. (Connecticut Public Television has not yet scheduled an air date for At Berkeley, although Connecticut viewers who can access New York and Boston stations will be able to view At Berkeley on Monday).

Mark G. McLaughlin is a Connecticut-based free lance journalist and game designer with over 30 years of experience as a ghost-writer, columnist, historian and game designer. An author whose first published book was Battles of the American Civil War, and whose games include the Mr. Lincoln’s War set, Mark continues to be enthralled by stories from the age of Lincoln. To view Mark's 16th published design, the American Civil War Naval strategy game Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, visit his publisher at
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