RITTENHOUSE SQUARE (2005)
Robert Downey Sr.’s vibrant documentary is a miniature city symphony, capturing an impressionistic portrait of one of Philadelphia’s most cherished public spaces. Downey collaborated with his longtime friend (and proud Philadelphian) producer Max L. Raab to make Rittenhouse Square, which observes the titular park and its denizens over the course of a year. With bemused grace, the camera follows plein air painters, newlyweds posing for photos, couples arguing and making up, and many stirring musical performances on instruments ranging from ukulele to didgeridoo. Downey also interviews a colorful group of Philadelphians who illuminate the park’s lively history and share the unique part that this small oasis of green has played in their lives. In a time of increased isolation and division, this lovely documentary is a heartwarming reminder of the magic that happens when people from all walks of life come together in a shared public space.
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