Thank You, Ottawa!


The ByTowne is now closed.

It's possible that, after the pandemic has been brought under control,
new management will take over the space and offer big-screen wonderfulness again.

The building is being maintained, with all its facilities and equipment intact,
in preparation for that hoped-for day.
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In Jackson Heights

All of creation converges in In Jackson Heights, a thrilling, transporting love letter from Frederick Wiseman to New York and its multi-everything glory.

Poster art for In Jackson HeightsSet in the Queens neighbourhood of its title – where people from across the globe are staking a claim on America while speaking Spanish, Tibetan and Punjabi – Wiseman’s latest documentary is a movingly principled, political look at a dynamic neighbourhood in which older waves of pioneers make room for the new.

In Jackson Heights is bookended with parallel long shots of the urban landscape, opening with an overhead shot of a daytime street tableau and closing at night with a jewel-like city aglow with bursts of fireworks. In between, Wiseman plunges into Jackson Heights like a no-nonsense tour guide, immersing the viewer in the ’hood with a succession of harmoniously framed shots of people, corners, stores and bins of brightly coloured vegetables. Each person, each storefront sign (from ‘Artîculos Católicos’ to ‘Himalayan Driving School’ to ‘Whole Baby Goat’) carries a story and opens up another world. Along the route, Wiseman pops into a Muslim school, a Jewish center, a meeting of gay and transgender people, and a City Council office. And every so often, he pauses as someone delivers a song, an argument, a speech, a complaint or a tribute – and oh, what great talkers he finds!

While In Jackson Heights is an exploration of a particular neighbourhood, Wiseman advances the idea that what makes a city – and makes it great – are the people in its streets and stores, its barbershops and laundromats, who together are weaving its cultural, social and political fabric.

Over time, as the movie returns to specific spaces, touching on human rights and gentrification along the way, it develops into a deeply stirring ode to the immigrant experience and American identity. By the time fireworks are soaring, your heart is, too.

– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

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