Free Time

Free Time

Manfred Kirchheimer | 1960 / 2020 | 61 minutes


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In the tradition of New York’s greatest street photographers, Free Time is a new film based on lustrous B&W footage Kirchheimer and Walter Hess shot throughout the city from 1958-1960. New York’s stately architectural beauty contrasts with rough and raw scenes of kids playing stickball, window washers balancing precariously, and stoop sitters reading the paper or daydreaming. The ways in which life in Washington Heights differs from Hell’s Kitchen, the Upper West Side, or the Financial District are captured with a sensitive, loving eye and an ear for the musical rhythms of city life.


“An indispensable New York Filmmaker, a noticer and listener without peer.”
A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“A beautiful portrait of youth, decay, and solitude in New York City. This 60-minute exploration of New York City speaks louder than most films. Kirchheimer’s 60-year-career fundamentally consists of nonfictional love letters to the sprawling urban landscape of NYC. Kirchheimer’s editing transforms the city into a living creature. The atmosphere morphs form tranquil to crushing with a simple dissolve. Reading between the lines is rarely this rewarding.”
Jonathan Christian, The Playlist

“[Kirchheimer is] one of the great documentary filmmakers.”
Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“A jazzy montage of exquisitely lensed Manhattan street scenes – musical passages from the likes of Bach and Basie share a soundtrack with select cues… In Free Time, you don’t hear noise, you hear notes.”
Eric Hynes, Film Comment