‘The lonely, enervated one-person basketball games, the bicycle rider straining himself on a hill to nowhere’
Sinai Field Mission, Zipporah Films, 1976
From The Paris Review:
One thing surprised me in 1978. Fred had little interest in watching other movies at the festival. He was interested in London theater and excited about the prospect of going to a play. I still believe, over thirty years later, that his movies come from the theater, perhaps the theater of the absurd, rather than from any specific film tradition.
Many people have written or filmed unending paeans to the human race, the nobility of man, the endurance of human spirit. But they have described man as we might like him to be, with little regard for how he is. Wiseman has had the honesty and supreme decency to portray human society for what it is: a madhouse. Titicut Follies was his first but not his only madhouse movie. It was a template for the thirty-eight movies that followed.
I sat down recently and re-watched Sinai Field Mission. It was much as I had remembered it. The man with the push broom in the middle of the desert, the Texas techies (from some bizarre organization called “E-Systems”), the endlessly marching Ghanaians and Finns, the lonely, enervated one-person basketball games, the bicycle rider straining himself on a hill to nowhere. Sisyphus without the grand illusions. In sum total: a feeling of immense dislocation, meaninglessness, and isolation.