To date, Tales from Planet Earth has screened more than 150 environmental films at our 2007 festival, 2009 festival, 2012 festival, 2013 festival, and community screenings, and through our co-sponsorship of films at the Wisconsin Film Festival. In choosing films, we have tried to re-define what an "environmental film" is -- encompassing any movie that examine how people shape and are shaped by the non-human world around them.
100 Years: One Woman's Fight for Justice
76 min., color, Blu-Ray, U.S., English
More than 100 years ago, the federal government broke up Native American reservations, allotting land to individuals (and selling off millions of other acres previously held by the Native nations). At the time, the government promised to manage Native American mineral rights in trust on behalf of more than 300,000 Native Americans and their descendants. Except it didn’t. Enter Elouise Cobell. The tribal treasurer of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, in 1996 she realized the government was failing its duty on behalf of all Native Americans and so she filed a lawsuit—the largest class-action lawsuit against the federal government in history. But after 100 years, it turns out the fight for justice would take a little longer . . . and longer still. Undaunted, she pursued justice through three presidential administrations and outrageous judicial maneuverings while refusing to be thwarted. A testament to the power of individual action and yet a sobering reminder of the limitations of justice, this documentary filmed over 10 years is a MUST SEE film. Official selection of the DC Environmental, Big Sky,
and Santa Fe Independent Film Festivals.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
127 min., color, 35mm, United States, English
Disney's Cinema-Scope classic updates the Jules Verne novel, adding an undercurrent of anxiety about the atomic era and the potential threats and potential of nuclear power. A "monster" has been terrorizing and sinking shipping vessels in the South Seas. Acclaimed French professor Pierre Arranox (Paul Lukas) agrees to travel on a U.S. expedition to track down the monster, along with his assistant Conseil (Peter Lorre) and the skeptical seaman Ned Land (Kirk Douglas). When their ship, too, is destroyed, they survive to discover that the monster is actually a mysterious submarine, captained by the fanatical Captain Nemo (James Mason). Nemo at first wins over Arranox with his vision of an underwater utopia, far from the wars and poverty of the surface world. But Conseil and Land see a very different picture. In the end, Arranox comes to understand the madness driving Nemo and his fears of what his submarine's new mysterious power source could wreak upon the rest of the world if it is discovered.
3 min., color, DVD, US
Steel workers at Bethlehem Steel made the steel that went into the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, and armaments for World War II. Today, as America's manufacturing sector has drastically downsized in the wake of the new economic order, the plant has closed down, leaving behind a deserted landscape of memories. In Jesse Epstein's poignant short, Ritchie Check - a worker at the plant for over 30 years - strolls through the skeletal remains of the factory that helped forge America.
8 min., color, Digital File, Japan, Japanese with English subtitles
Cycles of life are timeless . . . until they are not. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster and other catastrophes like it, how many untold stories pass by unheeded? Winner, Best Short Film, Berlin Film Festival, and Nominee for Grand Jury Award at the SXSW Film Festival.
Above All Else
95 min., color, Blu-Ray, U.S.
"You go up against a bully, you challenge them honestly. And what does a bully do? They just punch you." David Daniel isn't an activist or political by nature, he's merely a landowner in East Texas dedicated to his family and the home he built himself. Above all else, he wants to deal fairly. So when representatives from TransCanada come and say they have the permits in hand to pursue eminent domain for a right-of-way for the Keystone XL Pipeline across his property, he signs their forms. But when he finds out they didn't actually have the permits yet, he decides to fight back. This is the compelling but sobering account of David's fight, aided by his neighbors -- Julia, Eleanor, and Susan -- and a band of committed national activists. It is a fight for justice motivated by a belief that people should be treated fairly and not intimidated by power. It is a fight he must take on. But is it a fight he can win? Official selection of more than two dozen film festivals, including the SXSW, Hot Docs, and D.C. Enviromental Film Festivals.
The Adventures of Chico
60 min., color, US
Horace and Stacy Woodard
A near-forgotten gem from the 1930s, The Adventures of Chico
is a surprisingly modern tale. Depicting a year in the life of Chico, a Mexican boy helping his family of goat herders, the film offers a beautiful and amusing look at how humans interact with both domestic and wild animals. Over the course of the year, Chico raises an orphaned roadrunner, confronts a mountain lion after his family's livestock, and meets two coatimundi who get into loads of trouble when they overturn the family pantry. Unwilling to sugar-coat (or Disney-ify) too much truths about animal life and death, directors Horace and Stacy Woodard present an uplifting portrait of rural life and of the emotional bonds that we maintain with the animals around us.
All the Time in the World
88 min., color, Blu-Ray, Canada
"We thought: three kids, nine months, small cabin, no other kids? They're going to drive each other crazy." Instead what filmmaker Suzanne Crocker and her partner, Gerard, discovered on their 9-month family retreat in the Yukon wilderness (with Sam, aged 10; Kate, aged 8; and Tess, aged 4) is that time alone allowed them all to become more independent and more connected to each other at the same time. Whether it's figuring out how to trick-or-treat without neighbors or facing down a nosy black bear, the family repeatedly finds new ways to come together. In the end, this contemplative film reveals a journey into a world where the pressures of time temporarily cease to matter and where one can instead re-discover what is most essential and important. Winner of festival awards at the Wild and Scenic, Vancouver International, and Planet in Focus Film Festivals. Filmmaker scheduled to participate in post-film Q+A via Skype
9 min., color, Blu-Ray, United Kingdom, English
Jacob Cartwright, Nick Jordan
By rights, Cairo, Illinois should be a major American metropolis. Located at the juncture of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, this once critical location for water transport in the U.S. today watches much of the world pass it by. Yet the town is far from empty. Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan discover that its forgotten exterior hides a colorful cast of characters keeping the town alive -- including two river rats with some definite views about how best to approach the waterways, for sustenance or sport.
72 min., color, DCP, U.S., English and Spanish with English subtitles
Jason deCaires Taylor is an artist with a mission -- to try to save the perilously endangered coral reefs off Mexico, which face threats ranging from global warming to algae to excessive cruise ship traffic. So how can he save them? And how can mankind explain to future generations our complicity if the reefs end up dying? Taylor's elegant solution to these challenges is to create resilient artificial coral reefs from statues cast from local human models. This audience award-winning documentary chronicles the many challenges facing reefs while also showing the start-to-finish creation of perhaps Taylor's most beautiful sculpture yet -- the angel. Official selection of a dozen film festivals, including the D.C. Enviromental and San Francisco Green Film Festivals. Contains brief partial nudity
. Filmmaker scheduled to participate in post-film Q+A via Skype
28 min., color, Blu-Ray, U.S.
Are we looking at them or are they looking at us? The opening minutes of Godfrey Reggio's Anima Mundi
present a series of extreme close-up visions of animals staring at the camera, seemingly returning our gaze. Yet as cultural critic John Berger famously observed, even though humans desire to be seen
by other animals, we must come to terms with the fact that other animals do not reserve a special look for humans. So why do we look so closely at them? Are we merely one among many species or are we special? What animates them and us? In this poetic work commissioned for use by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and featuring a score by Philip Glass, Reggio explores the world of wildlife -- giving us a new way through film to know the other species that populate our world. (One of two films at Tales 2015
highlighting Reggio's work along with Koyaanisqatsi
Arc of Justice
22 min., color, Blu-Ray, U.S., English
Mark Lipman, Helen S. Cohen
In 1969, civil rights leaders Shirley Sherrod and Congressman John Lewis decided to try to help secure economic independence for African American farmers. Their solution was New Communities, Inc. (NCI), a cooperative farming community of nearly 6,000 acres—the largest tract of African-American-owned land anywhere in the U.S. at the time. The idea was to build a self-sustaining and self-contained community. But it turns out bigotry can intervene even when people try to keep to themselves. Due to discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the community lost its land in 1985. However, the “arc of the moral universe” is indeed long and eventually it may even bend towards justice, as seen in this eye-opening documentary. Winner of awards at the DOCUtah International Documentary and North Bay Film Festivals and official selection at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Features Q+A with Savi Horne, executive director of the Land Loss Prevention Project.
79 min., color, Digital File, Canada
Nilufer Rahman, Saira Rahman
In the Arctic Canadian town of Inuvik is a small group of Muslims who are seeking a place to worship and a way to belong amidst one of the oldest indigenous communities in Canada. This is the story of their prefabricated mosque making a 2500-mile journey across the Canadian wilderness to become the northernmost mosque in the Western hemisphere. But more than that it is the story of creating new communities from shared cultures living side-by-side. Filmmakers scheduled to be in attendance.
94 min., color, DCP, Luxembourg/Belgium/Morocco/Netherlands/Germany, Arabic with English subtitles
Jan-Willem van Ewijk
The Atlantic Ocean plays an outsized role in this gorgeously filmed drama -- barrier, backdrop, gateway, and home. Fettah is a Moroccan windsurfer who has spent years watching European tourists come and go, seeing his beachfront community as a place of play. But he feels imprisoned in his small village and sees the Atlantic as his outlet to a better tomorrow as an immigrant in Europe. So he sets out one day on his surfboard to seek out a new life -- but looming is the crossing over open water between Morocco and Gibralter in Spain. In an era when thousands of African refugees are trying to immigrate across the Mediterranean (often with tragic results) seeking to belong in Europe, this intimate drama offers a glimpse into the motivations of a single such individual. Nominated for awards at the Toronto, Netherlands, Marrakech International, and East End Film Festivals.
9 min., color, DVD, United Kingdom, English
This Academy Award-nominated short imagines a future (or perhaps more accurately our present) in which our reliance upon science seemingly allows us to have the good life . . . as long as you don't mind perpetually living in your car! But hey, as long as we keep getting new and bigger cars for every occasion, what's the problem, right? Witty, prescient, and disturbing in its satire, John Halas's film will give you a whole new appreciation for what "keeping up
with the Joneses" really entails.
Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock
92 min., color, DVD, U.S., English
Myron Dewey, James Spione, and Josh Fox
Standing Rock. For more than a year this fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota and its threat to the water supply of the Standing Rock Nation has been a worldwide beacon of resistance and indigenous empowerment. The Water Protectors who gathered there—more than 10,000 in number—came from dozens of Native nations and many non-Native allies. In solidarity, they resisted the violence of private security companies and federal officials and took a stand for the future. In this fascinating triptych, the film follows the first-person account of Floris White Bull, a member of the Standing Rock Nation, as she fights for her land and water. Then it takes to the air via breathtaking drone footage that captures the scope of the protesters and the challenges they face. Finally, we witness the ordinary and yet extraordinary acts of kindness and community that went into building the make-shift encampment that fought (and continues to fight) for justice. An ideal start to our weekend of thinking about indigenous fights for land rights, this MUST-SEE film was an official selection of the Tribeca and DC Environmental Film Festivals.
The Babushkas of Chernobyl
72 min., color, Blu-Ray, U.S., Ukranian and English with English subtitles
Holly Morris, Anne Bogart
On April 26, 1986, reactor #4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine catastrophically exploded, leading to the deadliest disaster in the history of nuclear power. Huge quantities of radiation spewed into the atmosphere and settled across the land. Eventually, more than 160,000 local residents were evacuated and re-settled. Nearly 30 years later there remains a 30-kilometer exclusion zone surrounding the plant in which no one is officially allowed to live. But an estimated 200 people, most of them women, have snuck back in and defiantly refused to leave the homes in which they still feel they belong. This film is a touching exploration of the present-day lives of these resilient survivors -- among them 72-year old Valentyna and 80-year old Hanna -- who have faith and refuse to give up even when their souls and bodies endure the all-too-real threat of continued radioactive contamination. An affectionate paen to survival, this film ties together many of the themes we are exploring throughout this festival. The Hollywood Reporter
perhaps best sums it up, calling it a "haunting and strangely uplifting" exploration of some of the "tougher people on the planet." Official selection of the Los Angeles Film Festival.
70 min., color, 35mm, United States, English
The animated classicBambi
is a film about natural innocence, the renewal of life, and the alienation of humans from nature told through the coming-of-age story of a young deer as he takes his place as the Prince of the Forest. Directed by David Hand, Bambi
features an array of unforgettable scenes (the death of Bambi's mother will leave you teary-eyed) and remains just as beautiful and heartbreaking as when you saw it as a youngster.
The Bead Game
6 min., color, 16mm, Canada, English
The life-or-death predicament of modern times is unique, right? Ishu Patel's innovative stop-motion animated film offers an odd vision of hope (and despair) in suggesting that the history of life itself is nothing but a game of conflict, destruction, and rebirth. From single-celled organisms to modern times, struggle has been constant. But has the atomic age changed the rules of this eternal game? Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
32 min., color, DVD, United States, English
Made just eight years apart, Beaver Valley
illustrate the two types of films for which the Walt Disney Company was famous in the mid-20th Century. The second of Disney’s True-Life Adventures, a genre of nature films which saved the studio from bankruptcy, Beaver Valley
follows the exploits of "nature’s chief water conservationist – the beaver" on the Continental Divide. Don't miss out on the Frog Symphony, one of the most memorable comic scenes in wildlife film history.
20 min., color, Digibeta, United States, English
Christine, a young entomologist, reluctantly heads back to her hometown to meet her dad, Ed, at the farmers market. After learning that half of her dad's honeybees have died, Christine finds that the bees have been killed by a pesticide. Can Christine get to the bottom of what happened to the bees? Or will she be thwarted by racial prejudices and mistrust that underlie so many American agricultural communities? Raphael Hitzke's short has become a hit on the festival circuit, appearing at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival
among several others.
93 min., color, Digibeta, Canada, In Inuit with English subtitles
Marie-Hélène Cousineau, Madeline Ivalu
It is summer. An Inuit extended family gathers to enjoy the land's abudance and their good fortune. But Ningiuq, the wise old woman, has a vision that suggests that her family's future is more fragile than they think. Ningiuq and her grandson Maniq are left at the island where the family annually dries its catch to prepare for winter. They finish their tasks and wait for someone to return to pick them up . . . and wait. This beautiful film, produced by Tales from Planet Earth
guest filmmakers Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn, sets the stage for a weekend of conversations about time, visions, place, and futures! Nominee for awards at both the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals and nominated for nine Genie Awards (the equivalent of the Canadian Academy Award). Filmmaker scheduled to be in attendance.
100 min., color, DVD, India, English
On December 3rd 1984, over 40 tons of highly poisonous gas leaked out of the pesticide factory of Union Carbide in Bhopal, India. 8,000 people died in the worst chemical disaster in the history of humankind - and since then 20,000 have died from after-effects. Set amidst this tragedy, Bhopal Express
is a love story seen through the eyes of newlyweds Verma and Tara, and their friend Bashir. Eager to start a family, Verma works as a supervisor at the Union Carbide plant despite the warnings of Bashir, who quit due to unsafe working conditions. When Bashir's worst fears are realized and Tara life is endangered, Verma must race against time to save her.
47 min., color, HD Cam, United Kingdom, French (English subtitles)
Only about a fifth of Guinea's 10 million people have access to electricity. With few families able to afford generators, children have co-opted the international airport, gas stations and traffic roundabouts as unlikely places to do their schoolwork -- the few places with artificial light. Every night of the weeks leading up to their important annual exams, children walk as many as six miles just to further their education. A vivid film of engaging stories, Weber's Black Out
is both powerful and haunting, another triumph in her impressive filmography (which includes past Tales
favorite The Solitary Life of Cranes
). Official selection of the International Documentary, Full Frame, Aljazeera, Planete +, and Los Angeles Film Festivals.
The Black Stallion
118 min., color, DVD, United States, English
Alec (Kelly Reno), a young boy, is saved from a shipwreck by a beautiful stallion. Together they survive on an isolated island and forge a lasting bond. After their rescue they return to America where an ex-horse trainer (Mickey Rooney) teaches Alec to be a jockey and guides the boy and the stallion to their ultimate triumph in this sweeping and majestic Academy Award-winning drama.
95 min., color, 35mm, UK
Today many people remember Born Free
primarily for its Oscar-winning score and title song. Yet for many the film was, and remains, a transformative experience. In fact, President Obama revealed in a recent interview that it was one of the first films he ever saw and one that deeply affected him. And with good reason, as the film faithfully tells Joy Adamson's amazing real-life tale of raising three orphaned lion cubs in captivity and then successfully rehabilitating the youngest cub, Elsa, to be able to live and survive in the wild on her own. For the film's stars, Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, the experience of shooting the film so moved them they became lifelong animal rights activists. For audiences today, the film will cause you to rethink what exactly the boundaries are between "humans" and "nature," between "wild" and not. In the end, how we think about these categories has profound implications for whether humans and wildlife will successfully be able to co-exist in the future.
Brother Sun, Sister Moon
121 min., color, DVD, U.S.
Was Saint Francis the world's first hippie "flower child"? Young Francesco, a spoiled child, grows up to find God in poverty, chastity and obedience. Renouncing his middle-class upbringing, he ventures forth from Assisi nude into the wilderness to be with nature and animals, free from a need for worldly goods. As others join Francesco, including Clare -- a young woman serving the lepers, the city elders start to worry about the corrupting influence of this new group of free thinkers. When Francesco travels to Rome to visit the pope, he rebels against the opulence of the papal court, angering the Catholic hierarchy. But then Pope Innocent has a dream that makes him rethink his values, noting that: "In our obsession with original sin we have forgotten original innocence." A tale of faith, belief, values, and how they affect our way of living on the planet, this sentimental film while not critically beloved upon release nevertheless presents an interesting take on the Catholic church at a time when the current pope is once again focusing on similar questions. Nature and religion scholar Bron Taylor scheduled to lead a post-film Q+A.
Brothers on the Line
80 min., color, Blu-Ray, United States, English
In the first half of the 20th century, Detroit, Michigan was arguably the center of America's manufacturing landscape. With a promise of surefire employment, this booming metropolis was inundated with hopeful job-seekers trying to build a future for themselves. Most soon discovered that the constant stream of immigrants meant they had to accept whatever working conditions demanded of them or risk being replaced. Three immigrants, however -- brothers Walter, Roy, and Victor Reuther - sought to give an equal voice to the workers pitted against the might of the automobile manufacturers. Overcoming intimidation and unified opposition from government and business, they organized the United Auto Workers (UAW) into a powerful advocate for workers' rights. With rare access to behind-the-scenes footage, this brand-new documentary -- directed by Victor Reuther's grandson and narrated by Martin Sheen -- offers a vivid portrait of the early ideals of the modern American labor movement.Winner, Best Documentary 2012 Michigan Film Awards. Filmmaker was in attendance. Film was followed by Q+A.
16 min., color, Digital File, France/China, Tibetan with English subtitles
Go look at your last "selfie" on Facebook or Instagram. What is the picture of your life that you've offered the world? How does that compare to reality? In this elegantly simple and yet profound short film, we see dozens of Tibetan nomadic families gather to have formal family portraits taken by an itinerant photographer and his assistant. Each family can choose the backdrop to be filmed against and their choices are quite revealing -- rather than pictures of home, they frequently choose pictures of aspiration -- grand temples and crowded city streets -- to reflect perhaps where they wish to belong rather than where they are. A beautiful short so real to life you'd swear it was a documentary. Nominated for a 2015 Academy Award for Best Short Film, Live Action and winner of awards at over 20 film festivals. Film's distributor scheduled to be in attendance
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
90 min., color, 35mm, Canada/United States/France/United Kingdom/Germany, English
In Cave of Forgotten Dreams
, Herzog follows an exclusive expedition into the nearly inaccessible Chauvet Cave in southern France, home to the most ancient visual art known to have been created by man, cave drawings dating back more than 30,000 years -- almost twice as old as any previous discovery. In these luminous visions, spectacularly filmed, Herzog finds a new appreciation of how early humans viewed their world and their place in it. One of two films being screened at Tales as part of a retrospective of master German filmmaker Werner Herzog, along with Lessons of Darkness
. Winner of Best Documentary by the National Society of Film Critics, as well as the Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, Washington DC Area, Dallas-Fort Worth, Kansas City Film Critics awards
CBS Reports: Silent Spring
60 min., B&W, DVD, United States, English
Bill Justice, Bill Roberts
In 1962, just a couple years before Rachel Carson passed away from breast cancer, she sat down with CBS's Eric Sevareid to discuss the national sensation caused by the publication of Silent Spring
. Despite every attempt to paint Carson as an alarmist or anti-progress, her appearance in this television special only cemented the portrait of a committed, yet dispassionate and analytical, thinker, who wrote only based on solid evidence and who measured her choice of words and analysis quite carefully. Watching Carson today, one can understand why much of the 1960s American public (including President Kennedy) came to be swayed by Carson's reasoning. Worth considering, then, is why so little has actually changed in the 50 years since her warnings first appeared.
Cesar's Last Fast
100 min., color, DVD, U.S.
Richard Ray Perez, Lorena Parlee
By any reckoning Cesar Chavez is an American hero. For more than three decades he led pioneering efforts to protect rights for agricultural workers who had long been exposed to grueling working conditions for little pay. Incorporating many of the same tactics as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, Chavez helped organize non-violent protests, strikes, union drives, and pilgrimages. And yet, surprisingly, in his own eyes Chavez felt he had not done enough for his fellow workers. And so in 1986 at the age of 61 he embarked on a dangerous 36-day "Fast for Life" to bring further awareness to worker exposure to pesticides. Using this fast as a lens to understand the life of Chavez, including the religious roots of his activism, this film shares never-before-seen home footage from his fast. A powerful way to start our weekend examining the complexities of human beliefs. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
The Chances of the World Changing
99 min., color, Digibeta, US
Eric Daniel Metzgar
An astonishingly moving and intimate portrait of one man's quest to keep from losing himself as he tries to save the world, The Chances of the World Changing
follows several years in the life of Richard Ogust, a writer and turtle collector who took on the challenge of trying to save many of the world's endangered turtle species and in the process lost his home, his career, and almost his sense of self. Even as he continually confronts insurmountable obstacles - lack of funding, dying turtles, illegal smugglers - the most amazing thing (as director Eric Daniel Metzgar has noted) is that this film concerning extinction is less about gloom and doom than it is about persistance, hope and survival.
A Changing World
36 min., color, Digibetacam, Canada
On Baffin Island, two mountains of ore will be cut down at Mary River. Residents of Igloolik have many reactions to this development : some worry that this industrial development will destroy their environment and the marine mammals as well as their culture and hunting life style. As part of the "Show me on the Map" project, this film allows Aboriginal citizens to voice their concerns and expose their points of view about mining industry development on their territories. Filmmaker was in attendance. Screening was followed by panel discussion on indigenous rights and resource exploitation.
108 min., color, DCP, Australia, English and Aboriginal with English Subtitles
Rolf de Heer
Charlie (David Gulpilil of Walkabout, Rabbit Proof Fence,
and Crocodile Dundee
) wants a house of his own. Since the government has taken over every aspect of his Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory of Australia, controlling what he can drink, what he can hunt, what he can own, and where he can live, he figures a house is the least they owe him. But when he sees his friend Fat Albert taken away to live out his days in a government hospital, he’s had enough waiting for things to get better. So, he takes off for the bush and tries to live according to a more ancestral way-of-life. But life in the bush may not be any easier. Unhappy and not at home in either way of life, will Charlie only find a home among the homeless? And if the past and the future are closed off to him, is there any hope for the present? Winner of awards at the Cannes, Adelaide, and International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights, as well as an official selection of the Toronto Film Festival.
75 min., color, Blu-Ray, United States, English
The sound of a glacier caving, the deep sonic rumble of millions of tons of melting ice grinding against each other. This is the sound of climate change. It's occurring more and more frequently and yet not so frequently that most people can experience it in person. This is damage that falls in the category of what UW-Madison professor Rob Nixon has coined "slow violence" -- ecological catastrophes that happen too gradually and invisibly to arrest our attention in the fast-paced, spectacle-driven society that consumes public attention today. Renowned National Geographic photographer James Balog is therefore on a mission: to make this slow violence of Arctic climate change visible and visceral. To do so, he'll push himself and his assistants to the physical breaking point to reach remote glaciers across the Northern Hemisphere and set up time-lapse cameras that can capture the gradual spectacle of glacial retreat. Ignoring doctors' orders to stop for fear of permanently disfiguring himself, braving life-threatening ice crevices, and propelled by a single-minded vision, Balog gathers awe-inducing photos and video that must be seen on the big screen to register fully.Chasing Ice
absolutely should not be missed! Winner of multiple awards at the Big Sky, SXSW, Hot Docs, DocuWest, Seattle, Full Frame, and Boulder Film Festivals, among many, many others.
Children of the Sun
10 min., color, 35mm, U.S.
The story of a healthy child who has enough to eat is juxtaposed with the story of an undernourished child representing three-fourths of the world's children. The film ends with the United Nations’ commitment to all the children of our planet. Part of a retrospective of the award-winning animation of John and Faith Hubley.
The City Dark
84 min., color, Blu-Ray, United States, English
Progress has its price - each technology yields later realizations of new forms of pollution. In his latest rollicking film, Ian Cheney (director of prior Tales
audience fave The Greening of Southie
) explores a newly-realized form of pollution from one of the oldest and most ubiquitous technologies on the planet - artificial light. Cheney starts with the question: "Do we need the stars?" His search for answers takes him to wildlife rehabilitation centers, cancer wards, observatories, and ultimately to questions about the nature of human imagination! Cheney's films are always entertaining and thought-provoking and this film is no exception, having already won critical and audience plaudits at the SXSW and Yale Environmental Film Festivals. Filmmaker was in attendance. Film was followed by Q+A.
5 min., color, Digital File, U.S.
Molly Miller is a clan mother of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians in Wisconsin. It is not a role she sought nor one that comes automatically with age. Instead it comes with wisdom -- the wisdom of a mother who lost her 15-year old son in a car accident who now needs to put her life into focus. And what she has come to realize is that just as she is lacking direction, her community is also lacking right now, as it continues to try to recover from the long history of forced assimilation into Euroamerican culture.
93 min., color, DVD, United Kingdom, English
It's the near future and Code 46 is in effect. With widespread use of cloning and genetic therapies, the statute prohibits anyone from breeding without making sure their partners are not genetically related. Willfully breeding with a known clone can result in arrest and treatment to ensure you never disobey again. Such control is typical of The Sphynx, the transnational corporation that has taken over most governmental functions, controlling who travels and who gets the privilege of living in the protection of global megacities like Shanghai and London. London-based William Geld (Tim Robbins) is a master at intuiting other people's thoughts and has been sent by The Sphynx to Shanghai to determine who is breaking the law there and issuing fraudulent licenses to travel. Geld is a man always at ease and accepting of the world as it is . . . until he meets license-maker Maria Gonzalez (Samantha Morton). Suddenly, his life is turned upside down and everything he thinks he believes about his world is up for grabs. Nominee for multiple audience awards at the 2003 European Film Awards and for the Golden Lion at the 2003 Venice Film Festival
Film does contain explicit nudity)
78 min., color, Digibeta, Australia, English
Martin Butler, Bentley Dean
Human history is replete with moments of "contact," times when two civilizations first discovered each other and tried to make sense of the other. While it is tempting to assume these moments all occurred in the distant past -- recorded, if at all, now only in dusty pages of history books -- moments of contact in fact have occurred quite recently. In Contact
, we witness an extraordinary moment of discovery via rare documentary footage of the moment the last 20 Martu Aboriginal nomads walked out of the Australian outback in 1964. Led by Yuwali, then a beautiful 17-year old girl and now our vibrant 62-year old narrator, these women and children were tracked down by the Australian government fearful that they could be in the debris field of an upcoming rocket test. The film leads us through the cat-and-mouse of tracking the Martu people down, as retold by both Yuwali and her family and the government officials who sought them, and ultimately allows Yuwali and her family to retell for their children and grandchildren what "contact" has meant for the history of their culture.Winner Best Feature Documentary from the Australian Film Institute and best documentary prizes at three film festivals.
82 min., color, DCP, U.S., English and Japanese with English subtitles
Robb Moss, Peter Galison
Deep beneath Carlsbad, New Mexico, lies the world's only licensed, operating radioactive waste site. Savior of the town? Bulwark against global warming? Or a nuclear gamble for 10,000 years? And what can the recent nuclear disaster at Fukushima tell us about the prospects of safely handling nuclear waste at all? Containment
explores the scientific, moral, and philosophical problems that surround the disposition of nuclear waste and the history of our efforts to safeguard the future from the wastes of our energy choices today. Following up on our "work-in-progress" screening of the film at Tales
in 2013, this return engagement reveals a finished picture that offers an ideal exploration of questions of doubt, certainty, belief, and faith as they relate to modern science. Filmmakers scheduled to participate in post-film Q+A by Skype.
60 min., color, Digital File, United States, English
Robb Moss, Peter Galison
Deep beneath Carlsbad, New Mexico, lies the world's only licensed, operating radioactive waste site. Savior of the town? Bulwark against global warming? Or a nuclear gamble for 10,000 years? Containment
explores the scientific, moral, and philosophical problems that surround the disposition of nuclear waste and the history of our efforts to safeguard the future from the wastes of our energy choices today.
60 min., color, DVD, United States, English
In July 1995 one of the largest natural disasters in recent history took place in Chicago, one of America's largest cities - and practically no one noticed or even remembers today! Indeed, Mayor Richard Daley challenges whether anything out of the ordinary even happened during that fateful summer week when temperatures climbed into triple digits for days on end. In his book Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, Eric Klinenberg persuasively argues, however, that a hidden disaster did occur, resulting in the deaths of more than 700 people. Building on Klinenberg's work, director Judith Helfand brings her trademark wit and incisive eye to Chicago's disaster and its long-term implications for people living in cities everywhere. In Cooked, she finds that what we call "natural" disasters so often are actually "social" disasters. Yet Helfand also finds courageous individuals, like Orrin Williams and his Growing Home organization, challenging the status quo and repairing urban social networks that protect and benefit everyone. The director of the multiple award-winning Blue Vinyl and our 2007 festival opener Everything's Cool, Helfand produces films that are thought-provoking, uplifting, and always essential viewing. Filmmaker was in attendance.
92 min., color, 35mm, US
One of the most controversial and yet well-reviewed documentaries to emerge in years, The Cove
comes across as an espionage thriller and environmental advocacy film rolled into one. At stake is the annual slaughter and capture of dozens of dolphins in the hidden cove of the Japanese town of Taiji. Former renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, who trained the original Flipper, has come from America to Taiji to try to expose the practice, which is so well hidden and guarded by the local fishermen that he has to recruit a team of divers, filmmakers, and commandos to hide secret cameras, microphones, and other equipment that can capture the slaughter on film. The paramilitary operation against another culture (as the filmmakers ultimately choose to frame it) comes under intense local suspicion and resistance, as the fishermen resist interference in their decades-old traditional fishing practices. In the end, the film leaves you with so many questions - is this killing of the dolphins morally wrong? If so, why does it make us so much angrier at the Japanese than at those of us complacent in the deaths of thousands of dolphins inadvertently killed in fishing nets to supply Americans with fish and to supply dolphins for our aquaria? Why does the killing of dolphins provoke such unparalleled outrage compared to the slaughter of millions of animals in American factory farms? Deeply disturbing, edge-of-your-seat gripping, and highly controversial, you'll debate this film for some time to come. Winner of Audience Awards at Sundance, Hot Docs, Silver Docs, and almost a dozen other film festivals.
Crossing the Line
5 min., color, Digital File, U.S., English
While in college, Mike and Fred Tribble of Lac Courte Oreilles took a class in Indian Law. Their class research project found that according to treaty rights Anishinaabe retained the right to hunt and fish not only on their current reservation land but on all ceded territories
. But they needed a test case to re-establish that legal right. Where to find one? Might as well do it themselves. Sometimes when your way of life is at stake and people keep telling you "no," you just have to keep following the path until you hear "yes."
28 min., B&W, 16mm, U.S., English
Facing Jim Crow discrimination and a punishing economic system of debt slavery and sharecropping, across the American South more than 6 million African Americans migrated to northern cities between the 1910s and 1960s. In Iverson White’s sobering debut film, one family that has already suffered at the hands of a mob lynching is determined to stick it out on their land and see their farm through. But when these three brothers refuse to back down to further threats and discrimination, what cost will the family pay now? To understand the structural racism of economic inequality today, it’s important to realize the violent racism that historically and presently continues to underlie it. Winner of the Paul Robeson Award, the Dore Schary Award, and the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Award
. Filmmaker scheduled to be in attendance.
(Film contains graphic images of violence)
107 min., color, 35mm, Austria/Belgium/France/Canada/Finland/Sweden, English
traces the devastating downward spiral that was triggered by two relentless killing machines: the Nile perch which, over the course of a few decades, ate through everything that used to live in Tanzania's Lake Victoria; and the foreign capitalists who introduced that non-native fish in order to sell it to European consumers. Losing out to both of these were the local Tanzanians who once lived off the lake's bounty and now, literally, are left with bones and rotting carcasses. Eventually, the filmmakers discover what is coming into Africa on the planes hired to take the fish out, further proving the depth of the corruption and evil at the heart of this situation. (Description adapted from the Wisconsin Film Festival
DDT - Weapon Against Disease
14 min., B&W, DVD, United States, English
U.S. War Department
In 1945, DDT really was a godsend. At that point, American troops fighting around the world faced greater risks from disease -- malaria and typhus, among others -- than from enemy fire. And DDT suddenly appeared as a savoir. In our modern era of skepticism and fears of nuclear and chemical toxicity, it can be easy to forget that chemicals and science once held lauded positions of unquestioned respect, beacons of progress for American society. This short film, produced by the U.S. Army for educational distribution, offers a glimpse into that popular mindset about modern "miracle" chemicals.
90 min., color, Blu-Ray, South Africa, English
Dara Kell, Christopher NIzza
South Africa is a country long on promises and short on realization of many of those promises. Since the end of apartheid, the nation's black residents have been seeking change from the new national leadership by the African National Congress, the nearly-unassailable dominant political party, which has the advantage of being Nelson Mandela's party. But for residents of the nation's many illegal shantytowns, the ANC not only has not delivered it has become part of the problem. This is the tale of three residents -- Mazwi, Zama, and Mnikolo -- who join a citizen's group challenging the government's policy of forced evictions and shanty demolitions and in the process take their case all the way to the South African Supreme Court. Braving threats, violence, and political inertia, their inspiring story is a wake up call about the need to address the growing worldwide issue of people barely eking out a life on the physical margins of society. Winner of festival prizes at the Brooklyn, Durban, and Movies That Matter Film Festivals.
60 min., color, DV Cam, US
Jen Gilomen and Sally Rubin
Appalachian Mountain coal today provides 35 percent of America's electricity - in 20 years this figure is expected to double. Deep Down
explores the implications of this reliance on coal and the impacts across Appalachian communities that are literally being split apart by mountaintop mining, as well as impacts in communities reliant upon coal-fired power plants. As the effects of this coal dependence spread across our land and atmosphere, it is time to reconnect the disparate human stories of impact, use, and extraction that are all too often forgotten in debates over this precious resource. In Deep Down
we see the poignant tale of two old friends in Maytown, Kentucky both ambivalent about plans for a new mountaintop strip mine and unsure whether to sell out to the mining officials. Is staying and living right next to teeth jarring dynamite explosions really better than moving away? What happens to their friendship, to their community, if they stay? What happens if they go? Deep down, the divides over this issue are more personal and emotional than just a question of coal. Filmmakers were in attendance.
Detroit Wild City
80 min., color, DVD, France/United States, English
DirectorBrothers on the Line
shows Detroit as it was. Detroit Wild City
tries to discover what the city is today and is becoming. The traditional narrative is that Detroit is a landscape full of abandoned buildings and increasingly devoid of people. But Tillon's stunningly photographed "tone piece" offers a more nuanced portrait. True, parts of the landscape are "re-wilding," being taken over by urban nature. But small groups of Detroit residents and new "urban pioneers" here and there are also transforming the city's landscape bit by bit into new spaces. Detroit's future is far from pre-determined; the only thing certain is that it won't ultimately be the product of a singular grand vision, as the many ghosts of past grand schemes haunting the landscape can attest to. An official selection at more than 25 film festivals on five different continents!
60 min., color, Digibeta, The Netherlands/United States, Dutch (English subtitles)
Gerard Zwetsloot is a free-range butcher with a not-so-small problem -- Dorus. Zwetsloot's pet pig is living the good life, with walks in the park and local celebrity status. But as Zwetsloot bonds with his growing pig, he confronts the problem of whether or not he'll eventually be able to butcher his animal companion. He's had this problem before and some of his earlier swine ended up at "pig sanctuaries" to live out their days. How can someone be a butcher for a living and yet selectively choose not to kill certain animals? How does anyone decide which animals we classify as food and which as friends? Will Dorus end up on the plate or in the barnyard? Dortmans' tender and thought-provoking film offers us reasons to believe that either ending is not without its issues.
49 min., B&W, Blu-Ray, United Kingdom, English
A landmark film from the father of the British documentary movement, in many waysDrifters
was the first modern British documentary feature film. Training his lens on a disappearing traditional method of herring fishing in the British North Sea, Grierson's portrait of the hard life of a commercial fisherman makes for an interesting pairing with a more recent film examining the same livelihood some 85 years later.
A Drop of Life
17 min., color, BetaSP, US
Set in the near future, A Drop of Life
is the story of two women – a teacher in a rural Indian village and an African American corporate executive, whose lives intersect as they both confront a lack of access to clean drinking water. Mirabai, the teacher, notices that since a privatized well has come to her village the number of children getting sick has dramatically increased. Nia, the executive, wants nothing more than to prove to her investors that this pilot project is profitable and safe. Ultimately, each woman will have to make the choices that serve her best - their own lives may depend on it. This science fiction film raises global questions about the impact of water privatization. A winner of the Audience Choice Award at the Rain Bird Intelligent Use of Water film competition, director Shalini Kantayya has used A Drop of Life
as a teaching and advocacy tool worldwide to promote water conservation.
100 min., color, DVD, United States, English
Based on the book How It Was With Dooms: A True Story From Africa
, this is the true story of a boy and his cheetah. Set in stunning locales in South Africa, this film takes us on a great adventure across the country as a young boy, Xan, seeks to return his cheetah friend, Duma, to his rightful home in the wild. Their bond of friendship is tested and proven unbreakable in this incredible journey.
Easy Like Water
10 min., color, DVD, US
This is one of a series of clips from works-in-progress that Tales from Planet Earth
screened as a group along with a panel discussing the alarming phenomenon of climate change refugees. In Bangla, "Easy like water" translates roughly as "piece of cake." The irony is that in Bangladesh - with a population half that of the U.S. crammed into the equivalent of Iowa, hovering at sea level and comprised of a massive river delta downstream from the Himalayas - water poses a relentless threat. Climate change is leading to increasing flooding, with estimates that flooding will cover 20% of Bangladesh by 2030, creating more than 20 million "climate refugees." So Mohammed Rezwan, an architect by training, has conjured up the equivalent of environmental Jujitsu, harnessing the power of water to educate and unify the community. Since the increasing flooding means many children can't get to schools, he decided to bring the schools to the children - using a fleet of solar-powered, internet-enabled school boats to provide education to impoverished Bangladeshis, including many girls who have never had access to school before. An uplifting and important film, Easy Like Water
reminds you that every crisis also is an opportunity to take action. Filmmaker was in attendance.
The Edge of Heaven
116 min., color, 35mm, Germany/Turkey/Italy, German and Turkish with English subtitles
The world of retired Turkish widower Ali, who lives in the German city of Bremen, is transformed when he takes in a prostitute, Yeter, who tries to find ways to support her daughter living back home in Turkey. When he misunderstands the relationship between Yeter and his own son, Alisan, tragedy ensues -- a tragedy that Alisan feels must be remedied by returning to Turkey to find Yeter's daughter. Meanwhile Ayten, a Turkish communist wanted by the law flees to Bremen, in search of her mother. There she meets Lotte, a German student who becomes her lover and tries to support her, even when Ayten is threatened with deportation as an illegal immigrant. More lives cross paths, more tragedies ensue, and everyone tries to find a place to belong in a world of loss and sacrifice. As the Los Angeles Times
declares: it's "a beautiful, unexpectedly enrapturing story about a world in transition and both the closeness and unbridgeable divide between generations and cultures." Winner of Best Screenplay from the Cannes Film Festival and the European Film Awards, the Lux Prize for European Cinema, and named one of the top 10 films of 2008 by The New York Times, Washington Post, Hollywood Reporter, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, and many other critics.
(One of two films by Fatih Akin featured at the festival, along with Polluting Paradise
13 min., color, DVD, United States, Spanish (English subtitles)
Fabian Euresti's intensely personal film documents his family's home in the San Joaquin Valley of California. The valley is home to two things, agriculture and oil -- and its contaminated groundwater is a powerful reminder of how the two frequently come into conflict with each other. In this intimate photoessay, Euresti considers the choices his parents have made, working the fields of California's agricultural landscapes, and the sacrifices that these choices entail. An official selection of the Full Frame and Los Angeles Film Festivals
110 min., color, DVCam, United States, English
Daniel Gold, Judith Helfand
In their signature upbeat comedic style, Daniel Gold and Judith Helfand weave an entertaining, character-driven tale about the mother of all problems: global warming. The film explores whether North America is finally "getting" global warming in the wake of the most dangerous chasm ever to emerge between scientific understanding and political action. In their own ironic and desperate way these "so-sad-they-are-funny"-vignettes of apathy, frustration and individual activism might very well be the thing that finally speaks to the public. In a society numbed by frequent and generally overblown prophecies of doom, the film tackles the truly daunting task of enlightenment and inspiration for action with wit and style. (Description adapted from the Sundance Film Festival
Expedition to the End of the World
89 min., color, Blu-Ray, Sweden/Denmark, Danish and Swedish (English subtitles)
A three-masted schooner packed with artists, scientists and ambitions worthy of Noah or Columbus sets off for the end of the world: its destination is the rapidly melting massifs of North-East Greenland. So begins an epic journey where the sailors on board encounter polar bear nightmares, Stone Age playgrounds, and entirely new species. But in their encounter with new, unknown parts of the world, the crew also confront existential questions of life. Curiosity, grand pathos, and a dose of humour come together in a superbly orchestrated film where one iconic image after the other seduces us far beyond the historical footnote that is humanity. Visually stunning and quietly meditative, Expedition to the End of the World
eschews simplistic notions of time and change and gets at something much deeper. Official selection of the Göteborg, FILMFEST MÜNCHEN, L.A., and Silverdocs Film Festivals.
90 min., color, HD Cam, China, English
The 2008 earthquake that devastated central China did more than kill many people, although it certainly did that. It also destroyed the fabric of communities for the survivors. In this intimate portrait, Zhao Qi follows three survivors of the earthquake from the mountain town of Beichuan, which lost 20,000 residents and was so totaled that the Chinese government decided to build a brand new city for the survivors rather than rebuild the old. There are the Pengs, a couple in their 30s who lost their 11 year-old daughter and are now too devastated to even think about having another child. There is Hong, a teenager struggling in school and struggling in life as he tries to build a relationship with a stepfather and bemoans the loss of his own father. And then there is Mrs. Li, who must care for her paralyzed mother while also trying to help rehouse her neighbors in her role as a community organizer. A powerful look at disaster and survival and at the many forces shaping 21st century China. Official selection of Sundance, Cleveland, and LA Asian Pacific Film Festivals. Screening in honor of the Evolving Landscapes art exhibit and symposium co-sponsored by the Nelson Institute in November 2013.
Fire, Burn, Babylon
53 min., color, DVD, United Kingdom, English
This double-billing is an inquiry into the transformations of culture and place. Fire, Burn, Babylon
follows the fortunes of a crew of Montserratian Rastafarians, who once lived in spiritual retreat in the Soufriere hills. After a volcanic eruption destroyed their island home, they resettle in London and reinvent themselves as "rude-boy" rappers and small time hustlers on the night-club circuit.
Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus
84 min., color, DVCam, United States, English
DirectorFlock of Dodos
is the first feature documentary to present both sides of the Intelligent Design/Evolution clash that appeared on the covers of Time
in 2005. Filmmaker and former evolutionary ecologist Dr. Randy Olson tries to make sense of the debate by visiting his home state of Kansas. At first it seems the problem lies with intelligent design – a movement labeled recently as "breathtaking inanity" by a federal judge – but when a group of evolutionists convene for a night of poker and discussion they end up sounding themselves like … a flock of dodos.
Fly Away Home
107 min., color, 35mm, United States, English
Thomas Alden (Jeff Daniels) and his daughter, Amy (Anna Paquin) can’t seem to get along. But when thirteen-year-old Amy takes on the responsibility of raising abandoned goslings, relations improve between Amy and her father. After the geese imprint on Amy, Thomas and Amy must teach the geese to migrate. The airborne adventurers rediscover their love for one another while overcoming a host of pitfalls and arriving safely at the geese’s winter home in this touching family adventure. Loosely based on a true story, the beautifully filmed movie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.
In the Footsteps of Elephants
10 min., color, DV, US/UK
This is one of a series of clips from works-in-progress that Tales from Planet Earth
screened as a group along with a panel discussing the alarming phenomenon of climate change refugees. Sarita Siegel's In the Footsteps of Elephants
, co-produced by Tales creator Gregg Mitman, is the parallel story of two cultures who once lived together, now caught in conflict. Racked by one of the worst droughts in decades, the Turkana tribe in northern Kenya and Uganda have been forced from their traditional migratory pastoral lifestyle to a largely sedentary existence, farming on marginal lands. At the same time, the elephants of the area have seen their traditional migration routes closed off by human settlement and their cultures and social hierarchies decimated by the ivory trade and conflict with their human neighbors. This film chronicles the tensions and overlapping stories of these two cultures, both on the verge of extinction and both caught in much larger webs of climate change, global trade, and war. In the end, where once the Turkana people migrated in the footsteps of elephants now both elephants and humans will have to find new ways of living together on a changing planet.
82 min., color, US
is the story of the zaballeen, some 60,000 people at the bottom of Egyptian society, who nevertheless are indispensable to the functioning of Cairo, as they daily collect and recycle 80 percent of Cairo's garbage. But globalization is threatening their way of life, as foreign companies (far more concerned with revenues than recycling) are taking their garbage from them. As the world around them changes, three teenage boys - Adham, Osama, and Nabil - must navigate their uncertain futures, as they dream of a better life and try to do right by their families. Winner of the Al Gore Reel Current Prize for important current environmental film!
85 min., color, BetaSP, US
For decades, the citizens of Brinkley, Arkansas have believed that the giant ivory-billed woodpecker still exists in their neighboring swamps, despite no official sightings of the bird anywhere in 60 years. When scientists recently announced that the bird had been found, the news was celebrated around the world as the rediscovery of a lifetime. Since then, however, no one has replicated the new official sighting, despite millions of dollars in federal funds being diverted from other endangered species projects to focus on this elusive (maybe illusive?) species. What explains the draw of this bird? What can efforts to save it tell us about how we commidify and view endangered species as a resource over which to battle? Ghost Bird
, a spirited look at all these issues, was an official selection of the 2009 Hot Docs Film Festival. Filmmaker was in attendance.
A Good Day to Die
92 min., color, DVD, U.S., English
David Muller, Lynn Salt, and Dennis Banks
Dennis Banks grew up being made to feel ashamed about who he was. Federal government policy took many Native American children from their families and communities and put them in boarding schools, trying to break them of their cultural identities. Removed from his family at age 5, Dennis wouldn't even see them again for the next four years. When he grew up, he tried to remedy his sense of cultural alienation. On July 28, 1968, inspired by feminist and civil rights movements already transforming the nation, Dennis gathered a group of other Native American activists to form the American Indian Movement (AIM). From a siege of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, DC, to the murder of a Native American activist, AIM's path has been rocky and not always marked by peace. But it has played an important role in trying to redefine modern Native Americans so that they never are made to feel shame for being themselves and standing up for their culture. An important cultural document, this intimately told documentary was featured at the Santa Cruz, American Indian, Black Hills, Frozen River, and Durango Film Festivals
9 min., color, DVD, Czech Republic, English
The next time you're walking around your neighborhood keep your eyes open -- tigers may be on the prowl! Libor Pixa's innovative mix of live action scenes and animated characters brings to life the graffitied walls of the city and reminds us that encounters with wildlife take many forms in our modern urban landscapes. Nominated for the Best Foreign Student Film Academy Award
The Grapes of Wrath
128 min., B&W, 35mm, US
John Ford's adaptation of John Steinbeck's classic novel The Grapes of Wrath
remains a beloved classic of American cinema for good reason. Winner of Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Supporting Actress, the film captured the palpable sense of loss and devastation created by the Dust Bowl in the 1930s for the poor farmers and migrant laborers also coping with the Great Depression. The trials of the Joad family, having lost their farm, were familiar tales for many in the long line of "Okies" who left the Dust Bowl in search of of work, any work, in California and found only hard labor and falling wages. Their struggle to retain life and dignity is a moving story told with tremendous power and conviction. The Dust Bowl stands as one of the worst natural disasters in history, forever stripping away untold tons of fertile topsoil and permanently remaking the economies and landscapes of large swaths of the United States. As our global economy once again is rocked to its core and as we face the prospect of new disruptive and large-scale climatic upheavals, The Grapes of Wrath
's themes turn out to be eerily familiar and prescient.
The Great Invisible
93 min., color, DVD, U.S.
The Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico was the worst oil spill in American history: 176 million gallons leaked over 87 days. But while this fact is undeniable what people believe about it and think they learned from it depends entirely on who they are. Margaret Brown's critically important film follows people from the entire arc of the story from the platform workers who question the drilling company's hubris about safe drilling practices to the out-of-work oysterers who question how BP and the government are compensating them for their losses. Brown finds oil executives who know that Americans don't really want to give up their gas-powered cars and food pantry workers who know that people just want to survive regardless of what type of energy economy we're in. In short, as Salon notes, it is a "quietly devastating" film, a moving, complex portrayal of an entire region of the country shaken to its core twice in the last ten years. As one individual in the film wryly observes: "[Hurricane] Katrina just wiped their house away and blowed in about 27 foot of water. But the oil spill really put a damper on everything." Winner of prizes at the SXSW and Full Frame Film Festivals
The Greening of Southie
73 min., color, DVD, US
Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis created one of the most engaging environmental documentaries in years with their 2007 triumph King Corn
about the environmental ramifications of America's agribusiness system. Now they are turning to the question of environmental impacts of construction with The Greening of Southie
, the story of the construction of a green-certified building on the south side of Boston. Funny and poignant, the film follows the construction workers accustomed to decades of standard construction practices and now suddenly confronted with the "building of tomorrow" and all the unique challenges it brings. One of the more popular screenings at the 2009 Wisconsin Film Festival, we are bringing this film back by popular demand! Filmmaker was in attendance.
27 min., color, Digibeta, Italy, Spanish (English subtitles)
Offshore of Peru, sits the island Guanape Sur. Most years its population totals: Humans - 2, Birds - 100,000. But every 11th year, the government allows 200 men to harvest the ground out from under the birds -- the ground created by the birds themselves. Guano is a prized source of natural fertilizer worldwide; but mining it requires backbreaking labor and dedication. Such is the need for work and income in Peru, though, that each time the guano mining opens hundreds turn up to apply for the jobs. A quiet and beautifully-filmed portrait of people and animals involved in an unusual landscape of labor. An official selection of the Hot Docs, Silver Docs, and London Internatlonal Documentary Film Festivals.
Harlan County, U.S.A.
103 min., color, 35mm, United States, English
Barbara Kopple's Academy Award–winning Harlan County, U.S.A
. unflinchingly documents a grueling coal miners' strike in a small Kentucky town. With unprecedented access, Kopple and her crew captured the miners' sometimes violent struggles with strikebreakers, local police, and company thugs. Featuring a haunting soundtrack - with legendary country and bluegrass artists Hazel Dickens, Merle Travis, Sarah Gunning, and Florence Reece - the film is a heartbreaking record of the thirteen-month struggle between a community fighting to survive and a corporation dedicated to the bottom line. "A fascinating and moving work. Its strength lies chiefly in its ability to illuminate the peculiar frightfulness and valor of coal-mining" (New York Times
Harvest of Shame
60 min., B&W, 16mm, US
Fred W. Friendly
Airing just after Thanksgiving in 1960, Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's Harvest of Shame
revealed the plight of migrant agricultural workers in Florida who helped to produce the bountiful harvests Americans had just finished celebrating. Murrow closed the film by noting: "Migrants have no lobby. Only an enlightened, aroused and perhaps angered public opinion can do anything about the migrants." Watching the film almost 50 years later, one doesn't know whether to admire the film's forward thinking about this issue or to be depressed that migrants continue to be disenfranchised and at the mercy of public opinion, even as they provide an ever-growing and vital link between the land and our dinner tables.
High Over the Borders
23 min., B&W, BetaSP, Canada, English
Birds in flight double feature! High Over the Borders
uses stunning aerial photography to document the international migration of thousands of wild birds of various species. Produced by the New York Zoological Society, in collaboration with the legendary documentary arm of the National Film Board of Canada and the U.S. Office of the Coordination of Inter-American Affairs, the film uses birds to promote Pan-Americanism and preach the moral value of nature's shared ownership.
Himself He Cooks
66 min., color, Blu-Ray, India/Belgium
Valerie Berteau, Philippe Witjes
Every day, the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, India faces a daunting task: preparing and serving 50,000 free meals for anyone who needs one regardless of race, religion, or class. But this act of charity is also an act of community -- with hundreds of volunteers seeing to the work of the temple from top to bottom, from heating the cooking fires in the morning to cleaning the dishes at the end of the day. Amid these rituals, a powerful sense of belonging and faithfulness emerges, beautifully captured in the lush cinematography of this documentary. Winner of the Earth Grand Prix prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival and featured at the Margaret Mead Film Festival.
14 min., color, Digital File, Ireland, English
"An elegiac tribute to an Ireland rapidly disappearing" (Irish Independent
), Home Turf
is a charming vignette about the last remaining turf cutters in Ireland who still get together to cut their turf by hand. For hundreds of years, the Irish have turned to the soil underfoot -- the peat bogs -- for energy. But with the advent of mechanized harvesting, fewer and fewer men come back each summer to turn turf by hand and socialize together while gathering their winter's fuel. With beautiful cinematography and lively characters, this film is a true charmer! Official selection of the Hot Docs, Krakow, Silverdocs, Dublin, Flagstaff Mountain, and Edindocs Film Festivals.
How the Myth Was Made
60 min., color, DVD, US
Some 40 years after the release of Robert Flaherty's classic Man of Aran
, director George Stoney returned to the Aran Islands to see the aftermath of the original film and how it had changed the lives of the people living there. What he found in How the Myth Was Made
was that the enduring appeal of Man of Aran
had shifted the islands' primary economic activity from fishing to movie-based tourism. He also found some of the surviving actors from the original film, many of whom had become locked into characters and landscapes artificially held static to satisfy the demands of Aran-inspired tourists. One of two George Stoney films featured in the festival (see also Planning for Floods
), this is a fascinating exploration of how cinema can create tangible impacts on people and environments.
The Hunger Season
60 min., color, DV Cam, US/UK
When watching news about famines and starving people in foreign countries, we often feel removed from the problem, even as we express pity and regret. Beadie Finzi's The Hunger Season
shatters our illusions of distance, however, revealing the complex interconnections between global economic systems, the hunger for new biofuel sources of energy, global climate change, political unrest, and resulting devastation of drought and famine for millions of people around the world. Tracing the journey of food aid from the fields of Wisconsin farmers to USAID and finally to Swaziland, where Justice, a village leader, struggles to feed his neighbors, Finzi brings home our role in hunger crises and also our ability to help avert such problems. A moving experience, The Hunger Season
had its sneak peek world premiere at a Tales from Planet Earth event in October 2008.
I Am Chut Wutty
This film is a work in progress
54 min., color, Digital File, U.K., Khmer with English subtitles
Fran Lambrick, Vanessa De Smet
Who is Chut Wutty? He is an environmentalist, fighting to save the last remaining intact forests in Cambodia from illegal logging and encroaching rubber plantations. He is an activist, photographing illegal logging operations while training the next generation of Cambodian environmentalists from among local residents. He is a martyr, gunned down in broad daylight in front of members of the media documenting his work. Who is Chut Wutty? In this rough cut, work-in-progress screening, director Fran Lambrick shows us that he is the embodiment of Margaret Mead's famous saying: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Filmmaker scheduled to be in attendance
If a Tree Falls
100 min., color, Blu-Ray, United States, English
Marshall Curry, Sam Cullman
If your ideals were continually dashed by the system, would you try to overthrow the system itself? Would you engage in criminal action? In December 2005, federal agents arrested Daniel McGowan in a nationwide sweep of members of the Earth Liberation Front -- a group the FBI labeled America's "number one domestic terrorism threat." Daniel is hardly your stereotype of a radical environmentalist - from Rockaway, Queens, he is a former business major and the son of a cop. Marshall Curry's Sundance-award winning film (filmed over several years while Daniel was on house arrest, awaiting trial under post-9/11 terrorism laws) weaves interviews with Daniel, his family, and co-defendants along with victims of their actions and the law enforcement agents who spent years tracking the group down. Curry attempts to determine how a mild-mannered environmentalist became convinced that furthering his ideals demanded acts of arson and sabotage. Is he a "terrorist" or merely a disillusioned criminal? This powerful film offers more questions than easy answers and humanizes - but does not exonerate - people whose passions have pushed them to challenge where the "wrong side of the law" falls. Winner of awards at the Sundance, Dallas, Nashville, and Flagstaff Mountain Film Festivals and nominated for a 2011 Writer's Guild Award and 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary.
An Injury to One
53 min., color, 16mm, US
An Injury to One is one of the most stylistically innovative documentaries in years, with Travis Wilkerson weaving together a film noir tale about labor unrest in the early 1900s in Butte, Montana's copper mines. Ultimately, the murder of mining labor activist Frank Little, still unsolved, has had ramifications that persist to this day. An Injury to One examines the many impacts of this unrest – from inspiring famed mystery writer Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest (with Hammett rumored to have been complicit in the murder as a former Pinkerton detective, no less!) to the ongoing environmental issues of copper mining and the leftover toxic Superfund lake that still sits atop Butte's mine. Trust us, this film is not to be missed.
Into Great Silence
169 min., color, 35mm, Germany, French with English subtitles
In 1984, a German filmmaker contacted the Grande Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps about whether he could film their lives of asecticism and devotion. They said they would get back to him. Sixteen years later, they were ready to respond. For six months, Philip Gröning lived with the monks in their retreat from the world, observing their routines and rituals as they moved through sacred space of light and quiet. The result is this remarkable film -- a portrait of a life of meditation and devotion but also a work of art in its own right, lacking score, voiceover, or any archival footage. The Los Angeles Times
calls the film a transcendent, transporting experience," while the New York Times
declares that it is "utterly spellbinding." Winner of a Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize. Film to be preceded by discussion of silent practice by John Francis, the Planetwalker
Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change
54 min., color, Digibetacam, Canada, Inuit (English subtitles)
Zacharias Kunuk, Ian Mauro
"Today's there plenty and tomorrow they're gone." While this bit of Inuit wisdom refers to the transience of wildlife, it could also be said to apply to the Arctic generally. In a region being transformed faster than any other in the world due to global warming, the Inuit are on the frontlines of a changing climate. Seeking to tap into this local knowledge, Kunuk and Mauro interview dozens of Inuit elders who remember how the Arctic used to be decades ago, drawing on their memories of daily environmental observations to learn changes in wind patterns, ice levels, seal blubber, glaciation, and more. Southerners (all the rest of us) try to divide the world by boundaries, but the Inuit see it all as one. And yet because climate change respects no boundaries, it is the Inuit who may be suffering the most from Southerners' choices. An important conversation about place, climate, past, present, and future.
17 min., color, DVD, United Kingdom/Tanzania, English
Mbwana and his best friend Juma are two young men with big dreams. Living in a sleepy fishing village on the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania, the two's hopes for the future are turned upside down when a chance snapshot captures a mythic big fish leaping out of the water. From there, the life of their community transforms, rapidly turning into a upscale tourist destination for seekers of the fish, an economic boon for all. But at what cost? Sometimes getting what you want doesn't lead to happily ever after! When an elderly Mbwana meets the fish again -- both of them now forgotten, ruined and old -- he decides only one of them can survive.
Killers in Eden
52 min., color, Digital File, Australia
If the old adage is "seeing is believing," then why do we so often have a hard time believing eyewitness accounts of events? Certainly many scientists have doubted the legend of killer whales in the small Australian town of Eden. And yet locals like Elsie and Alice vividly remember this extraordinary history of a period of several years in the early 20th century when wild killer whales led by "Old Tom" would work in concert with human whalers to herd baleen whales to where they could be harpooned. In return, the people would leave parts of the whales behind for the wild orcas to feed upon. Can such a human-animal partnership really form spontaneously and with forethought and planning on the part of whales? And why did it finally end? That's what director Klaus Toft aims to find out through this innovative exploration and re-creation of the legend of the "Killers in Eden."
86 min., color, Blu-Ray, U.S.
Godfrey Reggio's innovative cinematic work, including the Koyaanisqatsi
trilogy, is hard to classify. But its impact on viewers is undeniable, combining exquisitely observed and filmed scenes from around the world of people's interactions with their environment and with each other. Slowly out of this amalgam of hypnotic imagery emerges a powerful statement on the human condition and our sense of spiritual connection and disconnection. While it may seem to be a simplistic screed against human despoilation of the planet, the film invites a more complex assessment of the place of man, science, and faith in and out of nature. Named to the National Film Registry in 2000
. (One of two films at Tales 2015
highlighting Reggio's work along with Anima Mundi
). Filmmaker scheduled to be in attendance
La Ciudad (The City)
88 min., B&W, DVD, United States, Spanish
David Riker's dramatic film, born out of six years of acting workshops with Latino immigrants, is understated and yet pulls no punches, as it explores the disorienting reality of four Latino immigrants trying to imagine a new life for themselves in New York City. Told as four overlapping vignettes, the film, as Roger Ebert notes, "gives faces to the faceless and is not easily forgotten." Strangers in a strange land, at the mercy of unscrupulous employers and grasping at connections to their past lives, the heroes of each of these tales display quiet dignity and resilience, trying to find glimmers of hope amid much hardship. An extraordinary film, The New York Times
declared that La Ciudad
has "power in bringing home the brute Darwinian realities of poor people's lives" and is "indelible, deeply disquieting." Official selection of Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals. Winner Best Narrative Feature Film at the SXSW Film Festival and Winner at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival.
La Maison en Petits Cubes (The House of Small Cubes)
12 min., color, Digibeta, France/Japan, English
A lost pipe. A house flooded by global warming. Loneliness and longing in old age. This Academy Award-winning wordless short is a beautiful portrait of love and memory set against a backdrop of climate change. Like the beginning of the Pixar hit Up
, this film observes more truths about life and memory in a few minutes than most films achieve in hours of screen time.
Land and Shade (La Tierra Y La Sombra)
97 min., color, DCP, Colombia/France/Brazil, Spanish with English subtitles
César Augusto Acevedo
"We can't stop. We need the money." And yet the the sugar cane workers in the fields of Colombia aren't getting paid--simply promises that "tomorrow" the money will come. Should they strike and risk never being paid for the work already completed? Should they work on without pay and trust the bosses to finally deliver? Into this tense situation after a 17-year absence returns Alfonso, father to Geraldo and grandfather to Manuel, whom he has never met. Geraldo is desperately ill from the smoke of the burning sugar cane and too sick to care for Manuel. Geraldo's wife soldiers on in the fields trying to hold the family together. Through the hardship, smoke, and dire straits, Alfonso and Manuel quietly try to connect in this hauntingly filmed and stark portrait of a working Colombian family. This "ruthless depiction of hardship" (Chicago Reader
) has a "wonderful command of visual storytelling" (The A.V. Club
) and won four prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as prizes at the San Sebastian International, Mumbai, Lima Latin American, and Thessaloniki Film Festivals
The Land Beneath Our Feet
60 min., color, DCP, U.S./U.K.
DirectorThe Land Beneath Our Feet
Sarita Siegel, Gregg Mitman
weaves together rare archival footage from a 1926 Harvard expedition to Liberia with the journey of Emmanuel Urey, a young Liberian man and UW-Madison graduate student, uprooted by war, seeking to understand how the past has shaped land conflicts in his country today. This film is an explosive reminder of how large-scale land grabs are transforming livelihoods across the planet. Official selection of the DC Environmental, DOK.Fest Munich, RAI, Leeds International, Zimbabwe International, and more than a dozen other film festivals and winner of awards at the San Francisco Black Film and Harlem International film festivals. Filmmaker scheduled to be in attendance.
The Last Menominee
30 min., B&W, DVD, United States, English
Prior to termination, the Menominee Nation was considered the second wealthiest of all American Indian tribes. Since termination, Menominee County has consistently been Wisconsin's poorest county. How did this switch occur? In 1954, the members of the Menominee Nation voted to terminate their reservation status -- and all the benefits (and limitations) it offered -- in return for a per person payment of $1500. The payment had originally been offered no-strings-attached as the federal government's restitution for its mismanagement of Menominee timber rights during the 1930s. But Utah Senator Arthur Watkins added an amendment to the payment bill requiring that a Menominee vote to accept the payments equal a vote for termination. This film is an important historical document about this significant chapter in Wisconsin history, offering many firsthand interviews with Menominee Nation members and their neighbors, as they reflect five years after termination on its meaning and impact for the Nation, its culture, economy, and future. (Shown as part of an Indigenous Media Workshop at the ASEH Conference -- free and open to the public).
30 min., color, Digital File, Germany
Niko von Glasow
Buddhism has a tradition of retreats lasting "three years, three months, and three days." But in our modern helter skelter society, can anyone really afford to take that much time off? Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, a Buddhist master of the Kagyu Order, thinks the answer is yes. Indeed, meditation and self-reflection to find compassion and humility are the best antidotes to what spiritually ails so many. And so this monk, nicknamed the "Lazy Lama" for his insistence on slowing down, is opening a center for Western guests to embark on this traditional form of retreat. Will they last the full three years? How will they cope with the silence? With each other? With themselves? An honest, moving but not sugar-coated appraisal of the demands that self-reflection makes.
Lessons of Darkness
54 min., color, 35mm, France/United Kingdom/Germany, English, Arabic, and German (English subtitles)
Feeling like a fever dream version of Disney's Fantasia
crossed with an IMAX film's aerial footage by way of Hieronymus Bosch, Lessons of Darkness
is Herzog's haunting tour of the Hades-like landscapes of destruction in Kuwait created by Saddam Hussein's invasion and the first Gulf War. The film features many long unnarrated stretches where miles of devastation unfold beneath the aerial camera, but the true enviromental and personal costs of war are never felt quite as keenly as during the few segments where Herzog alights to earth and spends time with the people amidst the wreckage. In these quiet scenes with survivors of torture and firefighters covered in oil, the full horror of war is captured in a way few other films have managed to convey. One of two films being screened at Tales
as part of a retrospective of master German filmmaker Werner Herzog, along with Cave of Forgotten Dreams
87 min., color, Blu-Ray, France/United Kingdom/United States, English
Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel
Lucien Castaing-Taylor has been hailed as one of the most innovative documentary filmmakers working today and is fast becoming a Madison favorite. Previous screenings of his films -- Sweetgrass
(2009) and Leviathan
(2012) -- have sold out at the Wisconsin Film Festival. So popular was Leviathan
that we decided to bring it back once more, this time with the added benefit of Castaing-Taylor's presence. Leviathan
is unlike any film you've ever seen -- a lush immersion in the sights, sounds, and sensations of life aboard a New England commercial fishing boat. Lacking a traditional narrative structure, the film nevertheless gets under your skin as you discover for yourself the hardships of this vocation. Official selection of over 25 international film festivals!
Life Size Memories
120 min., color, Blu-Ray, United States, English
Klaus Reisinger, Frédérique Lengaigne
Too often we view wild animals as generic representatives of their species. But Life Size Memories
attempts to change all that, discovering individual beings that stand out on their own terms. The film follows as two experienced war photojournalists train their lenses on captive elephants in war zones across southeast Asia to create life-sized photographic portraits of these individuals. What do these portraits augur for the fate of the elephant? Reisinger and Lengaigne's beautiful film travels to four different nations to find a complicated answer -- that regional variations in both human and elephant cultures will ultimately determine which individuals live and which become mere faded memories.
5 min., color, Digital File, U.S., English
In 1969, Dick Gurnoe and seven other members of the Red Cliff Band of the Anishinaabe had had enough. Native Americans all over the country were being arrested merely for exercising their historic treaty rights to hunt and fish. So they decided to challenge the system head on with a protest fishing expedition. Their actions, demanding that Wisconsin and the federal government honor the Treaty of 1854, set the stage that forever changed Anishinaabe access to Lake Superior
In the Light of Reverence
73 min., color, DVD, U.S.
Places have many meanings imposed upon them by many different people. In the United States, some of our most revered "natural" places -- such as Mount Shasta, Devil's Tower, the Colorado Plateau -- are actually sites of intense cultural contestation. These landscapes, too often depicted as "wild" in popular media and even government policy, are in fact intensely cultural places central to the belief systems of various Native American nations. Filmed over 10 years, In the Light of Reverence
juxtaposes reflections of Hopi, Wintu and Lakota elders on the spiritual meaning of place with views of non-Indians who have their own ideas about how best to use the land. Winner of the Best Documentary Feature Award at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco and a Jury Award at the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival
. Film to be followed by a discussion on Native American spirituality and environmental ethics
Lighting the Seventh Fire
48 min., color, DV Cam, US
Bringing Tales from Planet Earth's global explorations home to Wisconsin, Lighting the Seventh Fire
takes up the issue of the Chippewa Indians' struggle to revive traditional methods of spearfishing against fierce oppposition from other Wisconsin residents fearful of the loss of the walleye resource. Director Sandra Osawa reveals how a seemingly simple question of "resource management" is intertwined with issues of racism, historical obligations of treaty rights, and how people choose to define natural "resources." Behind it all, she explains the Chippewa prophecy of the seven fires that encompass seven eras of time for the Chippewa people. Still to come is the time of the seventh fire, when the Chippewa's lost traditions will be restored.
Locomotion in Water
13 min., color, DVD, United States, English
Hanna Rose Shell
The film was accompanied by the short Locomotion in Water
, an experimental documentary about seeing movement, doing science, and filming fish in Naples, Italy. Moving between past and present, text and image, travelogue and reverie — Locomotion in Water
interweaves the reflections of the nineteenth-century chronophotographer with the animating impulses of a modern-day filmmaker.
Losers and Winners
96 min., color, DVD, Germany
Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken
An official selection of over 30 film festivals and winner of numerous documentary film awards, Losers and Winners
faithfully recounts the dismantling of a steel coke plant in the heart of Germany's Ruhr Valley for relocation to China. The simultaneous slowdown of European industry and explosion of the Chinese economic behemoth has transformed landscapes of labor around the globe and, in this case, led to the transplanting of what was once the world's most sophisticated coke plant after only eight years of operation at its original site in Germany. In the race to relocate the plant quickly, the new owners bring hundreds of Chinese workers to Germany, creating a clash of cultures as each country's workers view the demolition of a manufactured landscape with opposing feelings of optimism, despair, alienation and understanding.
78 min., B&W, DVD, United States, English
A charming tale of a young boy living in the Louisiana bayous, Flaherty's Louisiana Story
is another in his tradition of "docudramas" -- ethnographic re-enactments that try to capture the life and times of a particular place and community. In this case, he is training his lens on then-contemporary Louisiana and the transformations that were starting to appear in Cajun country as a result of the arrival of the oil industry. A true classic!
Man of Aran
76 min., B&W, 35mm, UK
Robert Flaherty's classic Man of Aran
set the standard for 1930s "docufiction" – ethnographic re-enactments that present the lives and labors of people remote from movie-going audiences. At the time, perhaps nowhere was more remote, and yet enticing, than the Aran Islands off the western coast of Ireland. Flaherty's romantic presentation of the hardscrabble conditions of a family of fishermen - presented only as a "Man of Aran," "His Wife," and "His Son" - as they go about their lives along the islands' cliffs proved so enticing that the film forever altered the lifestyles that were its subject, as it created a growing market for tourism to the islands.
5 min., color, Digital File, U.S.
When you harvest wild rice, "you're not only taking the plant or something on earth, you're taking part of the spirit with it." This bit of wisdom helps guide Fred Ackley, Jr. -- a member of the Sokoagon Chippewa Band in Mole Lake, Wisconsin -- who acts as a "ricer" on the lakes in his area. Ricing is about physical sustenance but it is also about respect for the spiritual world and our connectedness rather than separation to it. It is this belief, as much as the rice itself, that now sustains him.
80 min., color, 35mm, Canada, English
Director Jennifer Baichwal captures the world and work of renowned artist Edward Burtynsky, who creates large-scale photographs of "manufactured landscapes" - quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines and dams. The film follows him through China, as he shoots the evidence and effects of that country's massive industrial revolution. Baichwal extends the narrative streams of Burtynsky's photographs, allowing audiences to meditate on how profoundly humans have impacted the planet. It shows both the epicenters of industrial endeavor and the dumping grounds of its waste. True to Burtynsky's refusal to be didactic, the film presents issues of complexity without simplistic judgments or reductive resolutions.
May Allah Bless France!
96 min., B&W, Blu-Ray, France, French with English subtitles
Abd Al Malik
Based on director Abd Al Malik's own experience, this is a portrait of Regis, a passionate Congolese teenager trying to lead a double life in the projects of Strasbourg, France with the ultimate goal of making it as a rap artist. On the one hand, he is commended for his hard work in school and has a crush on his sweet neighbor, Nawel. On the other hand, he is the leader of a gang of pickpockets who prey on tourists to finance their music group and who keep urging him to move into the drug trade. But when tragedy strikes, Regis converts to Islam, only to discover that religious faith doesn't automatically bring clarity to the many parts of his identity, especially in a French society that barely tolerates religious diversity or its colonial immigrant population. Winner of the International Critics' Award at the Toronto Film Festival and nominated for two César Awards (French equivalent of the Oscar Awards).
90 min., color, Blu-Ray, Germany, Spanish, Russian, and Hindi (English Subtitles)
A film about human beauty in 12 chapters. In this affecting documentary, Glawogger criss-crosses the globe, profiling people living on the margins of some of the world's biggest cities -- New York, Mumbai, Mexico City, and Moscow -- and the determination and quiet dignity they instill into life, finding ways to survive and to carve out a place for themselves even in the most extreme circumstances. Filled with haunting imagery and memorable people, Megacities
is not a film that is easily forgotten. Winner of prizes at the San Francisco International, São Paulo International, and Vancouver International Film Festivals.
65 min., color, DCP, U.S., English
If you were a school trying to give your students a renewed sense of pride and engagement with their culture and language, what would you do? Well, if you were the teachers at a Hawaiian-language charter school in the rural town of Waimea you would call Estria and Prime, two of the most respected graffiti artists in the country. Together, these two artists have painted murals all around the world, calling on the graphic conventions and resistance ethos of the tagging art-form. But they've returned home to Hawaii and are determined to help students reconnect with their heritage. And now the big day has arrived--the students have explored their history, their land, and their hearts; they've mapped out the mural and learned spray painting techniques; so will Mother Nature actually let them create art? A heartwarming, crowd-pleasing film for the whole family about identity, community, and the power of art. Official selection of the Asian American International, Santa Cruz, Margaret Meade, Tacoma, Hawaii International, San Diego Asian, Guam International, Philadelphia Asian American, International Oceanian Documentary, Mother Tongue, and Maoriland Film Festivals.
Men of the Lake (Los Hombres del Lago)
12 min., B&W, DV Cam, Bolivia/US
Aaron I. Naar
The Bolivian village of Fuñaca Tintamaria, founded in 2000 B.C., is one of the oldest and poorest communities in Latin America. The Uru-Muratos who live there are known as the "Men of the Lake" for their close relationship with Lake Poopó. As a result of their history of enslavement, the immigration of many other peoples to the lake, water contamination, and global warming, the historic livelihoods of these fishermen today is gravely threatened. An incredibly powerful short film, Aaron Naar's Los Hombres del Lago
was an official selection of the 2008 Hot Docs film festival in Toronto
Merchants of Doubt
96 min., color, DCP, U.S.
Doubt. All of us live with it. And these days everywhere we turn we find more questions of doubt and risk -- uncertainty about everything from the chance of rain in the forecast to the health risks of coffee, baby bottles, air travel, sitting down, standing up, crossing the street . . . we can't escape doubts. But what we should be able to escape is "manufactured doubt" -- the deliberate manipulation of science and public discourse to muddy our understandings of certain risks. And as this incisive and compelling documentary based on Naomi Oreskes' book reveals, for more than 50 years American society has been suffused with doubt artificially manufactured by a small group working on behalf of corporations who stand to profit from our doubts about everything from cigarettes to asbestos to flame retardants to, most signficantly, global warming. Trust us: this closing film of the festival is ESSENTIAL viewing. Official selection of the Toronto, New York, and Telluride Film Festivals.
84 min., B&W, Blu-Ray, Germany, Russian (English subtitles)
In the middle of nowhere in the southern Urals of Russia
there occurred an explosion in 1957, now nearly unknown globally due to Soviet secrecy. The Kyshtym disaster remains -- along with Chernobyl and Fukushima -- one of the worst nuclear accidents in history. Today, the landscape remains charged with high levels of radiation -- not perceptible visually but very much evident in the bodies and social fabric of the remnant communities still surrounding the site. Mez trains his camera in haunting ways that make the landscape and people starkly come to life and starts to uncover the memories buried in this community. Official selection of the Berlin Film Festival.
Microcosmos: Le Peuple de I'Herbe
80 min., color, 35mm, France, English
Claude Nuridsany, Marie Pérennou
An amazing and breathtakingly beautiful journey into the minute and intimate world of insect life, Microcosmos
proves that, "Mother Nature remains the greatest special effects wizard of all" (New York Times
). Using specially designed cameras and powerful magnifying lenses, biologists-turned-filmmakers Nuridsany and Pérennou delve into a simple French meadow and explore the fascinating everyday behavior of thousands of beetles, caterpillars, ants, and other insects in what they call, "a return to science-fiction movies, [with] the same exoticism, the same excitement in the face of the unknown." Winner of five César Awards (the French equivalent of the Oscar)
Milking the Rhino
83 min., color, DV Cam, US
DirectorMilking the Rhino
David E. Simpson
is one of the films we are most excited to be bringing to Tales from Planet Earth! The film is one of the first ever to consider wildlife conservation from the perspective of those who live in close promixity to animals, rather than the usual perspective of remote armchair conservationists who don't have to live with the consequences of firsthand interactions with wildlife. This powerful documentary profiles the lives of rural Africans in Kenya and Nambia who are choosing to participate in community-based conservation programs that empower them to have a positive stake in the future survival of wildlife and "milk the rhino" to get their fair share of ecotourism revenue. Putting people back into the frame of the wildlife documentary, this film serves as an important rebuke to most wildlife films that create imagined Edens where people don't exist and don't play any role in animals' lives.
80 min., color, BetaSP, US
Geralyn Pezanoski's powerful first feature film shines a light on a forgotten class of Hurricane Katrina victim - the Gulf Coast region's pets (and their owners). The film ably documents the immediate aftermath of the storm that killed or stranded over 100,000 animals and the valiant rescue efforts by volunteers from around the country. But Mine
doesn't stop there. Instead, it wades into far deeper and more emotionally charged terrain, following the months of suffering and struggle since 2005 - as pets that were rescued and sent to animal shelters around the country become legally adopted by new families, even as their former families continue to search for them. There are so many tales here so skillfully and emotionally told. Victor has been desperately searching for his dog Max. Tiffany is smitten with him and couldn't imagine giving him back after rescuing him. Whose dog is Max? Gloria refused to be evacuated without her dog Murphy until finally she was forced to leave Murphy behind by the National Guard. Should she not be able to get her dog back now? Through it all hangs questions about what it means for an animal to "belong" to someone, what rights are animals entitled to, and why our relationships to animals are so powerful and yet so convoluted. A heartbreaking and powerful film, Mine
clearly demonstrates how some of the greatest tragedies often emerge in the absence of villains and the presence only of good intentions and how often the simplest desire to love another being can be fraught with enormous obstacles. Winner of the Audience Award at the 2009 SXSW Festival in Austin. Filmmaker was in attendance.
87 min., B&W, 35mm, United States, English
Arguably, Chaplin's greatest film (along with City Lights
), Modern Times
is a stunning satire of the working life and landscapes of labor (and lack of labor) so many Americans endured during the Great Depression. Both laugh-out-loud-funny and tear-jerking, this was Chaplin's final "Little Tramp" film and the first since the total ascendence of talking pictures. Yet despite being a "sound" picture it is not a talking picture. Indeed, the only sounds aside from music on the soundtrack are those that emit from machines -- a commentary on the dehumanizing landscape of the working man. If you haven't yet seen this classic, you simply must, if only to consider how our landscapes of labor have changed so much in the last 75 years.
Mushrooms of Concrete
23 min., color, Digibeta, Netherlands, Dutch (English subtitles)
Take the Cold War, a paranoid dictator, and an isolated nation and you get: Albania. For more than 40 years, Albanian Communist Party Chief Enver Hoxha ran the nation into the ground, literally. Consumed with fear of attack, he forced Albanians to dig more than 750,000 concrete bunkers in a country less than half the size of Wisconsin. Today these bunkers litter the landscape -- a bitter reminder of past sacrifices for one generation, but potential sites of opportunity for a younger, enterprising generation. A fascinating portrait of a country little-known in the U.S., Payens' engaging film was an official selection of the 2011 Silverdocs Film Festival.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds (Kaze no tani no Naushika)
116 min., color, DVD, Japan, English
Based on his popular manga series of the same name, Hayao Miyazaki's animatedNausicaä of the Valley of the Winds
tells the story of a princess growing up in a feudal-like world a thousand years after a war has devastated much of Earth's environment and technology. Utilizing her gift for communicating with giant insects and possessing a love of living things, she sets out on a perilous journey to defend all life against destruction. With Nausicaä
Miyazaki begins to explore elements he would develop more fully in his later films (Princess Mononoke
, Spirited Away
): compassionate heroines, strong interpersonal relationships, and a call for an ecologically sustainable way of life.
Near Oracle - A Film About Biosphere 2
90 min., color, DVD, US
In September 1991, eight men and women began a two-year mission to live inside a sealed four-acre complex in the desert of Arizona known as Biosphere 2. The group's avowed scientific purpose was to see how well they could maintain a series of artificially-created biomes - deserts, coral reefs, temperate rainforests - as part of an entirely closed, self-sustaining system. The project was supposed to consider the issues and potential success of future missions to create permanent self-sustaining colonies on the moon or Mars. But many outside critics wondered whether it was as much showmanship as science. With mounting costs and mounting public curiosity, Biosphere 2 was rushed to completion, all the while enduring a clash of personalities trying to steer the project in wildly divergent directions. In this sneak preview of the not-quite-final fine cut of Shawn Rosenheim's film, an extraordinary and gripping portrait of the project emerges from unprecedented access to the "biospherians'" own home movies, interviews with many of the key project participants, and hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes footage. Watch as the biomes begin to breakdown, people endure cult-like diets, rivalries and jealousies erupt, and all the inhabitants begin to suffocate in their own CO2. Ultimately, you're left to wonder how much hubris it takes to believe we can ever try to engineer Biosphere 1 (Earth) on large scales when as meticulously controlled a setting as Biosphere 2 goes so awry! Filmmakers were in attendance.
Never Cry Wolf
105 min., color, 35mm, US
DirectorTales from Planet Earth
is pleased to be screening one of director Carroll Ballard's many extraordinary films that documents the intense connections that exist between humans and animals. Ballard captures the often spiritual quality of the human-animal bond that famed naturalist E.O. Wilson has suggested is an innate "biophilia," or love for other creatures on the planet. And in his films, Ballard also reveals the great lengths humans often go to study and preserve our animal kin, such as Never Cry Wolf
's adaptation of the real-life efforts of Farley Mowat to research wolves in Northern Canada and his growing awareness of wolves' unfair reputation and persecution. While the impressive visuals and stories of this film makes it ideal viewing for the whole family, Ballard's work is far from a kid's film but, in fact, required viewing for anyone interested in the intertwined fates of all humans and animals.
84 min., color, DVD, Germany, German and English with English subtitles
Niko von Glasow
Director Niko von Glasow has never been comfortable with his body. He is one of an estimated 10-20,000 "children of thalidomide" worldwide -- people born with significant limb abnormalities due to in utero
exposure to the drug thalidomide, which was prescribed to women in many countries in the 1960s as treatment for morning sickness. But von Glasow discovers that other people living with the effects of thalidomide exposure have more varied relationships to their bodies and their bodily understandings of chemical exposure. Some like Kim let nothing stop them, finding love and success as a politician. Others remain shy and self-doubting, like Stefan, the wheelchair-bound astrophysicist. Ultimately von Glasow decides there is only one way he can reclaim his sense of self and body -- shoot a nude calendar
of 12 people affected by thalidomide (himself included!) and present the finished product to the company that manufactured the drug. Winner of Best Documentary at the German Film Awards.
Northern Ice: Golden Sun
6 min., color, 35mm, US
DirectorNorthern Ice, Golden Sun
explores the Inuits’ deep attachment to the natural world. They hunt, fish, dance, care for their young and make art in tune with the seasonal cycle of the Arctic. During the fearsome winter months, they rely on the mysterious powers of the Shaman. The new threat of industrial invasion looms over their land and their culture. But, the Inuit survive. The land reawakens, and all the people and animals rejoice under the glowing sun. One of several animated shorts by Faith and John Hubley shown as part of a retrospective celebration of their work.
Nostalgia for the Light
90 min., color, Blu-Ray, France/Germany/Chile, Spanish (English subtitles)
10,000 feet above sea level in Chile sits the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert. The clear desert air atop the mountains draws astronomers from all over the world to observe the sky, peering right through to the boundaries of the universe. But the desert's ground has as much interest as its sky, as it holds remains of political prisoners, “disappeared” by the Chilean army after the military coup of September 1973. Even more than a generation later, survivors -- mostly women -- still search for the remains of their loved ones. Melding the celestial quest of the astronomers and the earthly one of the women, Nostalgia for the Light
is a gorgeous, moving, and deeply personal odyssey of memory, time, and space. Winner of the 2011 Best Film Prize from the International Documentary Association and Best Documentary Prize at the 2010 European Film Academy Awards.
Notes on Blindness
13 min., color, Digital File, U.K./U.S./Australia
Peter Middleton, James Spinney
What's it like to be blind? To lose one of the key senses by which we build our understanding of the world around us? Peter Middleton's and James Spinney's hauntingly beautiful film accomplishes two things. First, it presents the narration of writer and theologian John Hull, who in 1983 began losing his sight and recorded three months of audio diaries to provide insight into the sensation of blindness and his new way of knowing the world. Second, the film re-creates in creative and innovatively visual ways the interior world of the blind. Nominated for Best Documentary Short at the SXSW Film Festival.
6 min., color, Digital File, U.S., English
William "Boyzie" Jondreau was a commercial fisherman. But he was also a concerned member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of the Lake Superior Ojibwe--sharing his fish with those in need, teaching local kids to fish, and serving his community. Then in 1965, he was arrested by a conservation officer in Michigan when he was found with four lake trout supposedly taken out of season. He fought back, however, recognizing that the illegal restriction of his hunting and fishing rights counter to historical treaty rights was part and parcel with other federal efforts to kill off his culture, preventing him from passing on a proud legacy for his children and grandchildren.
75 min., color, DV Cam, South Korea
"The ox is my karma." This simple statement sums up the deep personal attachment felt by Mr. Lee, an aging peasant farmer in South Korea, who lives each day in close physical and spiritual companionship with his ancient ox. A slow, quiet and moving documentary that feels more like an intimate fictional film, Chung-ryoul Lee's Old Partner
has capitvated audiences at the Sundance Film Festival and the World Cinema Documentary Competition. Underlying the entire film is the recognition that two individuals from entirely separate species can develop a bond and kinship that is nothing short of friendship -- complete with all the joys, frustrations, struggles and heartbreak that make friendship so difficult and yet worthwhile. While the film itself strives to avoid being pigeon-holed either as pure idyll or elegy, one is left to consider the value and importance of close human-animal kinship and whether its time is forever waning.
76 min., color, DCP, Australia, English
Joe Moses is a man with a mission: save his neighborhood of 3,000 squatters before they are forcibly evicted by the government in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea to make room for a sweetheart luxury development favored by government officials. On Mother's Day 2012, 100 police wielding machetes and guns descend on this settlement attempting to bulldoze houses to the ground. Alongside Dame Carol Kidu, leader of the opposition in the national parliament, Moses and his companions protest and attempt to protect the basic human rights and dignity of their community. In this powerful investigative documentary, we watch Moses overcome betrayals, police brutality, and risks to his own life, while taking to the courts for more than three years to fight for justice. A powerful and fitting end to our weekend spent celebrating the patient and dangerous work of people everywhere who oppose injustice and recognize that land means life. Official selection of Hot Docs, IDFA, FIFO Oceanian, Human Rights Human Wrongs, One World International Human Rights, Copenhagen International Documentary, Sydney, and DOC Edge New Zealand Film Festivals
Our Daily Bread
92 min., color, 35mm, Germany
At the 2007 Tales from Planet Earth
, the screening of Edward Burtynsky and Jennifer Baichwal's Manufactured Landscapes
filled up the theater in only a few minutes. At Tales from Planet Earth in 2009, Nikolaus Geyrhalter's Our Daily Bread
is likely destined for the same fate. Training a similar artistic lens on the global food system, Geyrhalter wordlessly captures extraordinary tableaus and landscapes of astonishing power. From the treatment of livestock to the application of pesticides and the working conditions of laborers, Our Daily Bread
lays open for questioning each link of the complex processing chain that connects us to our landscapes via the food on our plates. Winner of 10 film festival awards and official selection of over 50 festivals.
72 min., color, DVD, India/Nepal/U.S., English and Tibetan with English subtitles
Wendy J.N. Lee
In 2010, Ladakh, India was ravaged with a cloudburst -- several inches of rain falling in sixty seconds, leading to catastrophic mudslides and devastation. This weather was not normal: global climate change has drastically altered the Himalaya, critical source of water for a large proportion of the world's population. To raise awareness of these environmental challenges facing the Himalaya, His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, one of the region's main Buddhist spiritual leaders, decided to lead 700 people on a pad yatra
-- a pilgrimage of 450 miles across the mountains. Crossing altitudes of more than 17,000 feet and stopping to pick up more than 1000 pounds of trash along the way, the pilgrimage inspires a global movement of further eco-Pad Yatras. This film joins one woman inspired to participate, Carrie Lee, on a journey of faith and commitment that has won audience and cinematography prizes at the Big Bear, Stuttgart Indian, Houston Indian, Docutah, Feel Good, Silent River, and Blue Ocean Film Festivals.
89 min., color, Blu-Ray, United States, English
The story of Pandora's Box (like the Tree of Knowledge in Eden) is a story of irreversible and numerous misfortunes visited upon the world in return for mankind obtaining new powers and knowledge. The moral of such stories usually focuses on the downside of opening Pandora's Box. But should we focus on the upside as well? Since the development of nuclear power, most environmentalists have treated it as a toxic catastrophe continually threatening to wreak havoc. But in UW-alumnus Robert Stone's provocative film, he interviews many environmentalists (all formerly firmly anti-nuclear) who are trying to focus on the potential good side of opening the nuclear Pandora's Box. Could nuclear power actually be the solution to the even more catastrophic threat posed by a carbon-based economy and global climate change? Can we live with ourselves if we embrace nuclear? Can we live at all if we don't? This film offers a thought-provoking and important discussion for a world without black-and-white answers to our major enviornmental challenges. Official selection of the Sundance Film Festival.
28 min., color, DVD, US
In yet another innovative work by Alex Rivera, Papapapá
humorously explores immigration issues by comparing the assimilation of immigrant peoples and immigrant foods. In this case, Rivera parallels the migration of a form of potato from Incan Peru north to become part of diets throughout North America with an immensely personal journey following the journeys of his Peruvian father as he migrated from Lima to the United States. Part of a three-film retrospective of Rivera's work, along with Sleep Dealer
and The Sixth Section
Pit No. 8
95 min., color, Blu-Ray, Estonia/Ukraine, Russian (English subtitles)
In the heart of Ukraine's once-thriving coal-mining region in the town of Snizhne lives 15-year old Yura, head of his family of three that includes his two younger sisters. The town's coal mines have officially been abandoned as "poor pits," but Yura and many other children, retirees, and unemployed members of the community continue to dig for coal illegally in shafts under their homes, their gardens, abandoned buildings, parks -- wherever they can. Yura dreams of raising money to get training to become a chef in his own cafe; but the economic realities of the recent global economic downturn continually press in upon him and his family. An intimate profile lacking a traditional narrative plot, the film presents an in-depth account of one family's struggle to survive in a world increasingly lacking economic opportunity. A multi-award winner at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival as well as several other festivals
Planet of the Apes
112 min., color, United States, English
Franklin J. Schaffner
"Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death." And so reads Cornelius from the sacred scroll of apes. Yes, it's the classic you love and remember so well. Colonel George Taylor (Charlton Heston) and his crew, astronauts who departed Earth in 1967, have traveled 2100 years into the future where they find a planet ruled by intelligent apes and humans reduced to slave labor and experimentation. Becoming captured, Taylor is taken to the lab of Zira and Dr. Zaius, who dub him "Bright Eyes" and wonder if he may be as intelligent as he looks. A brooding classic that explores questions of humanity, ethics, the future, and the dangers of mankind's hubris, this is a film worth staying up late for!
Planning for Floods
28 min., color, DVD, US
Made for the Environmental Defense Fund in 1974 on the heels of then-record flooding on the Mississippi River, George Stoney's Planning for Floods
explores the philosophy of the U.S. Corps of Engineers in controlling floods and reveals how this philosophy creates a false sense of security and mastery of nature - control repeatedly shown to be illusory in natural disaster after natural disaster. Stoney's film foreshadowed future weather-related disasters that were made worse by humans' hubristic disregard for historical floodplains and the forces of strange weather. Planning for Floods
is one of two films from George Stoney's distinguished career that we are pleased to be showing at Tales from Planet Earth to coincide with a visit from the filmmaker, who is considered the father of public access television in the United States and a visionary documentarian of the 1970s and '80s. Filmmaker was in attendance.
18 min., color, Digital File, United States, English
There it is. See it over there -- that majestic bit of wildlife? It's the . . . plastic bag. With tongue firmly in cheek, Ramin Bahrani elevates the humble plastic bag to the role of documentary star, using all the usual tropes of big budget wildlife films to underscore just how much trash such as plastic bags plays a role in human and non-human landscapes, interacting with us in ways similar to any natural wild animal. But the impacts of trash are obviously far from natural, as the film starkly illustrates at the end with the bag's final migration to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating slick of plastic and garbage in the Pacific Ocean that may be as large as twice the size of the continental United States.
The Plow that Broke the Plains
25 min., color, 16mm, US
Under FDR's New Deal, the government Resettlement Administration undertook an ambitious project to document American life and the need for government programs to address the various crises crippling the country. To this day, the films produced through this program are the only peacetime production by the United States government of films intended for commercial release and public viewing. Yet far from producing staid bureaucratic works, the program resulted in some of the most advanced and moving documentaries ever produced up to that time. And among these films, director Pare Lorentz's portraits of environmental devastation remain some of the most brutal and revealing ever captured on film -- monumental landmarks in the history of American non-fiction film. In The Plow that Broke the Plains
, he documented the landscape and aftermath of the Dust Bowl and, in the process, made a compelling case for the development of the Soil Conservation Service. One of two Pare Lorentz documentaries shown at the festival.
93 min., color, Blu-Ray, Germany, Turkish with English subtitles
In an interview about making this film, award-winning German-Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin declared: "Hope is the last to die." And his hope in making this film about the construction of a garbage dump in his home village of Camburnu in Turkey was that the making of the film itself would be enough to save the town. But despite his efforts to document and raise international awareness to the situation over some five years of filming, the garbage dump was built and has continued to grow. But in the end, hope doesn't die and his community has learned how to organize, how to protest, how to communicate with the public and with politicians, and how to keep on fighting. They are resilient no matter the outcome. This is their story. Nominated for a festival prize at the Hamburg Film Festival. (One of two films by Fatih Akin we are featuring at the festival, along with The Edge of Heaven)
82 min., color, Digital File, India, Hindi and English (English subtitles)
Fahad Mustafa, Deepti Kakkar
Would you risk your life to flip a switch? In Kanpur, India, putting oneself in harm's way to deliver electrical power is all too common. More than 1.5 billion people around the planet lack regular access to electrcity: 400 million of them live in India. In the city of Kanpur, a 28-year-old electrician is renowned for his prowess in stealing electricity. He is a robin-hood figure, stealing electricity and charging the rich to provide free connections in impoverished neighborhoods. In the face of day-long power-cuts, he runs illegal connections from one neighborhood to another so that homes, factories and businesses could function normally. At the other end of the city, the new female head of the city power company has decided to crack down on power-theft, which costs them millions of rupees in losses each year. Yearly drives to remove illegal connections are met with street protests and anger. In the meantime, lack of electricity drives people to use generators run on fossil fuels. This is choking the town, making Kanpur one of the most polluted cities in India. Powerless puts a lens to an unexplored narrative of one of the world's fastest developing economies still wracked by inequality and lacking basic necessities for everyone. Official selection of the 2013 Berlin and Tribeca Film Festivals.
134 min., color, 35mm, Japan
Roger Ebert declared that Princess Mononoke
"is one of the most visually inventive films" ever and one of the best animated films he'd ever seen. No wonder, as this complex tale of humans, forest animals and nature gods fighting for their share of the planet is one of director Hayao Miyazaki's anime masterpieces. Following his earlier work Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds
(which was one of our more popular screenings at the 2007 Tales from Planet Earth
), this allegorical tale from Miyazaki follows Prince Ashitaka as he journeys to find the cause of nature's imbalance and finds Princess Mononoke fighting the forces of Lady Eboshi, the leader of a people learning ever more industries while forgetting how to talk to animals and the environment.
20 min., color, Digital File, United States, English
Joe Turner Lin, Justin Marshall
Part of the FutureStates
series of short films that imagine the impacts of climate, societal, and technological change on the future course of mankind, Promised Land
imagines a bleak future that combines all three kinds of change. It's the near-future. Temperatures regularly soar into the high 120s. Fuel and work are both hard to come by. And now to make matters worse, climate change refugees from the even bleaker future are now using technology to come back in time and try to find refuge in the past. Teenager Jackson's father is a bounty hunter trying to get these refuges dead or alive. On his first day of temporal border patrol, what happens to Jackson's sense of morality when confronted by a refugee who is girl about his age? A powerful examination of immigration, climate change, opportunity, and ethics in a changing world.
Protect Our Future
31 min., color, DVD, United States, English
Jordan Principato, Shania Jackson, Ahpahnae Thomas
With the help of UW-Madison professor Patty Loew, Jordan Principato, Shania Jackson, and Ahpahnae Thomas -- all 14-year old members of the Bad River band of the Chippewa Tribe here in Wisconsin -- have created their debut film. In it, they address the threatened impacts of proposed mining in northern Wisconsin upon the water supply and other resources of the Bad River band. Sharing stories from tribal educators, land managers, attorneys, and elders, this film is an impassioned plea from the next generation of filmmakers and storytellers demanding that this generation protect their heritage of our Wisconsin landscape.
Restoring the Mauri of Lake Omapere
80 min., color, New Zealand
Although its subject is halfway around the world from Wisconsin, the themes of Simon Marler's beautiful film Restoring the Mauri of Lake Omapere
will resonate strongly with people living in the Yahara River watershed. Agricultural runoff, toxic algae, mechanical weed harvesting - these issues have a familiar ring for anyone acquainted with the history of Lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, and Kegonsa. Marler adds to these issues the story of the Maori people and their struggle to restore the mauri, or life spirit, of a small New Zealand lake. This is a film that leaves you with hope that grassroots efforts worldwide really can make a difference.
The Return of Navajo Boy
52 min., color, Video, United States, English
In 1997 Bill Kennedy unearthed an old reel of a silent film called Navajo Boy,
which his late father produced in Monument Valley in the 1950s. Seeking to understand his father's work on the Navajo Reservation, Kennedy works with documentarian Jeff Spitz to return the film to the people in it, including Elsie Mae Cly Begay, who recognizes her long-lost infant brother John Wayne Cly, who was adopted by white missionaries in the 1950s. Elsie tells her family's story for the first time, offering a unique perspective to the history of the American west. When her brother learns of the film, the family reunites and the Clys shed light on the Native side of picture making and uranium mining in Monument Valley. The film triggered a federal investigation of uranium houses on the Navajo Nation and forced the U.S. Department of Justice to pay a $100,000 compensation check to a former uranium miner.
Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury
74 min., color, 35mm, Brazil, Portuguese (English subtitles)
Luiz Bolognesi's debut animated feature film is a gripping epic -- set across more than 600 years of Brazil's past and future. The year is 1566. In fleeing a jaguar's attack with his love, Janaina, Abeguar discovers an ability to fly. His shaman explains that he is the chosen one, the man who must lead his people for as long as it takes until they find a place free from the influence of the anhinga
, or European culture. In receiving this gift, Abeguar discovers that resistance is (almost) futile and demands great pain, sacrifice, and eternal vigilance. Over the course of four key periods of Brazil's past and future -- native rebellion against the Portuguese in 1566, a peasant rebellion in 1831, a student movement against dictatorship in the 1960s, and a water rights movement in 2096 -- a continually reborn Abeguar searches for ways to resist the loss of his culture and place. Sustaining him through these troubles is a parallel search for true love with Janaina. In the end, not knowing one's past leads to darkness, but finding one's love offers eternity. Winner of Best Feature Film at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival
This is NOT
a children's film -- containing graphic violence and sexuality)
31 min., B&W, 16mm, US
Legendary director Pare Lorentz's portraits of environmental devastation during the Great Depression remain some of the most brutal and revealing ever captured on film -- monumental landmarks in the history of American non-fiction film. In The River
, he documented the effects of deforestation leading to massive soil erosion and flooding in the Mississippi River watershed. In the process, Lorentz made a compelling case for the development of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Interestingly, unlike his other masterpiece, The Plow that Broke the Plains
, which was widely rejected by audiences in the Dust Bowl region at the time of release, The River
met with universal praise throughout the South, despite its similar laying of blame for regional natural disaster on human mismanagement of the land. The different reception of the two films seems due solely to Lorentz's choice to glorify the Confederacy in one scene of The River
, an unusual narrative twist for modern audiences to ponder. One of two Pare Lorentz documentaries shown at the festival.
The Road Warrior
94 min., color, Australia, English
"I only came for the gasoline." It's the future -- our oil-based economy has collapsed and a nuclear apocalypse has occurred. Now Max (Mel Gibson in one of his earliest roles), a former policeman scavenging for fuel in the Australian Outback, can only survive by teaming up with a community living in a gasoline refinery, who try to defend their supplies from the barbarian biker gang led by The Humangus. A film long on sensations, short on words (Gibson has only 16 lines in the whole movie), and actually a kinetic futuristic Western, see why Roger Ebert said of it: "The experience is frightening, sometimes disgusting, and (if the truth be told) exhilarating!"
Roots of Heaven
121 min., color, 35mm, U.S.
Morel is a man on a mission: save the elephants! But this isn't the 1970s or 1980s when the decimation of elephants and the effects of the ivory trade are world news. This is the 1950s in French Equatorial Africa and his quixotic quest to protect elephants is met with bemusement, puzzlement, and derision by most of his compatriots. The only exceptions are the prostitute Minna, the boozy ex-British military man Forsythe (played by Errol Flynn), TV commentator Cy (played by Orson Welles), and the journalist Abe -- all of whom see something in his cause worth fighting for and following. A forgotten film from one of America's master filmmakers, this is a glimpse into the costs and trials endured by martyrs who dedicate themselves to environmental causes.
Salt of the Earth
94 min., B&W, DVD, United States, English (Spanish subtitles)
Herbert J. Biberman
Based on the true story of the 1951 strike against the Empire Zinc Company in Grant County, New Mexico, Salt of the Earth
is an important landmark in American cinema. It remains one of the only films in American history banned (for almost a decade after its release) due to McCarthy-era fears of supposed pro-communist sympathies and its production by members of the blacklisted "Hollywood Ten." Moreover, the film is one of the first major studio films to offer a strong feminist message. Beyond its historical significance, though, this film rightly is praised for simply being a great movie, with The New York Times
declaring that the "tautly muscled script develops considerable personal drama, raw emotion and power." With a cast of only five professional actors supplemented by real people from the actual strike, the film portrays the efforts of Mexican-American miners, led by Ramon Quintero and his wife, Esperanza, to strike for better working conditions and wage equality with Anglo miners. A powerful testament to the challenges that continually plague America's landscapes of labor, this film is simply a must-see! Selected in 1992 by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.
92 min., color, 35mm, Canada
Suzanne Chisholm and Michael Parfit
cuts across many of the major debate in modern conservation - from wildlife management to the resource rights of native peoples. But more than any didactic debate or polemic, this film is simply a beautiful portrait of a living being - an orca whale named Luna - who touches hundreds of intersecting lives. Filmmakers Suzanne Chisholm and Michael Parfit initially journeyed to Vancouver Island in Canada on a three-week magazine assignment to cover a charming anecdote about an orphaned whale that played with boaters and loggers. Their journey ended up lasting more than four years, as they found themselves at the heart of a complex and emotional struggle involving issues of anthropomorphism and whether humans have the ability, right, and responsibility to transcend the human-animal barrier to try to understand another species. One of the highlights of Tales from Planet Earth
and a winner of audience and jury prizes at 22 film festivals!
Science is Fiction: The Films of Jean Painlevé
This film is a work in progress
85 min., color, 35mm, France, English
French filmmaker Jean Painlevé (1902-1989) was a pioneer of astonishingly beautiful science films, which poetically explored a twilight realm of bats, seahorses, and octopuses, among other creatures. In collaboration with his partner Genevieve Hamon, Painlevé made over 200 science and nature films that document nature's authentic 'magic realism,' and was a favorite of the surrealists and avant-gardists. Painlevé counted amongst his friends and admirers Antonin Artaud, Sergei Eisenstein, Jean Vigo, and Luis Buñuel. Presented were a program of five of Painlevé's most bewitching films, including: The Seahorse
), The Vampire
), Freshwater Assassins
(Les Assassins d'eau douce
), The Love Life of the Octopus
(Les Amours de la pieuvre
), and Acera or The Witches' Dance
(Acera ou Le Bal des sorcieres
Second Chance: Sea
10 min., color, 35mm, U.S.
Second Chance: SeaThe history of the ocean culminates with the present abuse of our most important resource. Do we have a second chance? Part of a retrospective of the award-winning animation of John and Faith Hubley.
Sepideh -- Reaching for the Stars
91 min., color, Blu-Ray, Denmark/Iran/Germany, Persian with English subtitles
“I believe that if you want something bad enough, it will happen." This is the encouragement that Sepideh, a determined teenage girl living in Iran desperately craves. Sepideh has a dream -- to be an astronaut, or at least an astronomer -- just like her heroes, Albert Einstein and Anousheh Ansari (the first Iranian in space). But as director Berit Madsen ably captures in this intimate documentary, everywhere Sepideh turns she meets with resistance. From school to family, people repeatedly tell her that her dreams are not appropriate for a young girl in a conservative Muslim society. But over the course of several years, she feistily perseveres, continuing to sneak out at night to marvel at the sky and finding an ally among her teachers at school. In the end, the film leaves you pondering the future of both Sepideh and an Iranian society experiencing turmoil and upheaval about its fundamental beliefs and values. Official selection of the Sundance and IDFA Film Festivals.
The Silent Enemy: An Epic of the American Indian
84 min., B&W, 35mm, United States, English
H. P. Carver
In 1928, William Douglas Burden, a wealthy explorer and naturalist, whose life inspired the making of King Kong
, traveled to Lake Temiskaming in northwestern Quebec to make an "authentic" picture about the North American Indian before contact with whites. The film features remarkable performances by Native American actors Molly Spotted Elk and Chief Buffalo Long Lance, as well as those by Chauncey Yellow Robe, great nephew of Sitting Bull, and local Ojibwa villagers. Cinematographer Marcel le Picard used light and shadow to great effect in creating an image of a vanished past, and audiences were spellbound by the "the most stupendous sight of wild game in North America since the bygone days of the buffalo." In 1930, the New York Evening Post
declared the film deserved a "Pulitzer Prize as the best American dramatic creation of the year."
The Silent World (Le Monde du Silence)
86 min., color, 35mm, France, English
Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Louis Malle
Famed French undersea explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau documents the voyage of his ship Calypso
across the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean, and creates a lyrical meditation on the awesome mysteries of oceanic life. "Surely the most beautiful and fascinating documentary of its sort ever filmed ... The only trouble with the whole thing is it makes you want to strap on an Aqua-Lung and go!" (Bosley Crowther, New York Times
). Co-directed by French New Wave director Louis Malle (Au revoir les enfants
) and winner of Oscar for Best Documentary and the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Sixth Section
26 min., color, DVD, US
Alex Rivera is seeking to challenge and destroy many of the assumptions underlying Americans' debates over immigration. A child of Peruvian and Irish-American parents, Rivera brings his unique perspective to an exploration of immigration and its myriad impacts – documenting the ways in which Americans rely upon immigrant labor and ways in which many of these immigrants, far from being a silent and exploited underclass, are organizing to empower themselves. In The Sixth Section
, Rivera highlights the efforts of Grupo Unión, a coalition of Mexican immigrants who work in New York state in order to support their community of Boqueron, Mexico. Their goal - to provide their community with something it needs but would never do for itself: build a baseball stadium! Part of a three film retrospective of Rivera's work, along with Sleep Dealer
90 min., color, 35mm, US
Alex Rivera's Sleep Dealer
, a multiple Sundance Award winning science-fiction masterpiece, imagines a future in which all U.S. borders are closed to immigration yet foreign workers continue to perform labor remotely via robotic connections. After Memo Cruz's home is destroyed in an attack, he travels to Tijuana with dreams of working in the high-tech labor factories, even though workers there go until the point of collapse. Along the way, he meets the mysterious Luz who is trying to use him for her own reasons. A mind-blowing, satirical look at modern labor and the uses of people, this film will change how you think about people's relationships to the land and asks you to consider what it is we really are arguing about in our recent debates over U.S. immigration policy. Part of a three-film retrospective of Rivera's work.
Solitary Life of Cranes
27 min., color, DV Cam, UK
People engage with landscapes in a variety of ways and from many different perspectives. Eva Weber explores perhaps one of the most ignored perspectives, hidden in plain sight in almost every big city and developing landscape around the world. Capturing images not for the faint of heart (or acrophobic), Weber bravely ventures high above London to discover its world of crane operators. What she discovers in Solitary Life of Cranes
is a complex relationship between man and machine, executing sweeping movements with balletic precision and in the process reshaping the landscape below.
Sons of the Land
88 min., color, HD Cam, France, French (English subtitles)
In 1999, Edouard Bergeon's father became another of the 400 to 800 French farmers who commit suicide every year, suffering from despair at the crushing debt burdens suffered by modern farmers at the same time that their marginal profits continue to erode. In exploring his father's story, Bergeon meets the Itards, a family of dairy farmers in southern France going through similar issues that overwhelmed his father. For 14 months, his camera penetrates into the heart of a modern farm family -- its hopes and frustrations, intergenerational disagreements, debt burdens, family strife, but also abiding love and loyalty. In the end, from near-tragedy, the Itards find hope for a sustainable farming business model that might allow these sons of the land to pass their family farm on to another generation. Official selection of the IDFA, Eurodok, Vera, and Göteborg International Film Festivals.
97 min., color, 35mm, US
It's the year 2022 and the world is running out of food. Overpopulation and pollution make life in New York City and cities like it hellish -- with most people sleeping in every nook and cranny of available space and paying exorbitant prices for one-time pleasures as simple as strawberries but otherwise subsisting on corporate-produced food supplements Soylent Red and Orange, or the new supplement -- Soylent Green. Detective Thorn (Charlton Heston) is tasked with tracking down why the executive of the Soylent Corporation has been murdered. His investigation leads him to one monstrous conclusion! A classic in the genre of eco-apocalyptic films that have increasingly pervaded modern culture, Soylent Green
has a payoff that makes it required viewing for anyone wanting to understand the social and political fears and preoccupations of the 1970s that created the modern world we inhabit today.
The Split Horn
56 min., color, DVD, United States, English
DirectorThe Split Horn
movingly documents the struggles of a Hmong shaman and his family to keep their ancient traditions alive as they find themselves displaced from the mountains of Laos to the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin.
12 min., color, DCP, Germany
Johannes Krell, Florian Fischer
The "nature film." This genre has been around almost as long as the history of cinema itself. Over the decades, "reel nature" has influenced many people's beliefs and understandings of "real nature," often presenting nature as action-packed, colorful, and entirely separate from humanity. In this unusual short, Johannes Krell and Florian Fischer overturn the conventions of the nature film, making strange the familiar as they alternate between movement and stagnation, hypnosis and realism, naturalness and artificiality. Official selection of ten film festivals, including the Hot Docs Film Festival.
Sun Come Up
38 min., color, DVD, U.S./Papua New Guinea, English and Tok Pisin with English subtitles
The Carteret Islanders near Papua New Guinea have a dubious distinction -– they are, by some accounts, the modern world's first "climate change refugees." As global temperatures and sea levels gradually rise, salt water is encroaching their aquifers and washing away their shores. Now, because of greenhouse gas emissions half a world away, this community of 1,700 people has forever abandoned the only home they have ever known. Facing hunger and failing rice crops, Ursula Rakova and other village leaders task their youth, led by Nick Hakata, to find a new home. Traveling 50 miles across the sea, Nick and his friends arrive in neighboring Bougainville, just emerging from a 10-year civil war and suspicious of outsiders seeking handouts. San Kamap (Sun Come Up) is local pidgin for "sunrise," and, indeed, this beautiful film does not portray the sunset of a people as much as their resilience to rise another day. Nominee, 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. Winner, Crystal Heart Award, Heartland Film Festival; Golden CINE Best of Category and Best of Festival Awards, Montana CINE International Film Festival; Best Cultural/Human Interest Film, Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival.
Sun Come Up
15 min., color, DV Cam, US
This is one of a series of clips from works-in-progress that Tales from Planet Earth
screened as a group along with a panel discussing the alarming phenomenon of climate change refugees. Sun Come Up
is the story of the Carteret Islanders, a people living on a remote archipelago 50 miles from Papua New Guinea. Due to human-induced global climate change, the sea levels are rising - threatening the islanders' fresh water supply, eroding their shorelines, and subjecting them to ever more unpredictable storms. Unwilling to stand by passively while these mounting troubles threaten her people's way of life, Ursula Rakova searches for new land for her people to move to on nearby Bougainville Island, which has troubles of its own in the wake of a recent civil war. Disturbing in its implications, yet inspiring in its portrait of people's resilience, Sun Come Up
promotes a much-needed discourse about how we as a planet will respond to a growing crisis of our own making. Filmmaker was in attendance
Sweet Crude Man Camp
11 min., B&W, Digital File, United States, English
Isaac Gale's short provides a stark portrait of the hardships endured by workers attracted to the oil boom of the Bakken region of North Dakota. While a few men bring their families in trailers, many come alone, hoping to support their families from afar. Faced with few social opportunities and exorbitantly priced room and board in official housing, the men cobble together their own versions of home, whether it's sleeping in the front seat of their car or line dancing at the local bar. A moving and effective portrait. Official selection of the Palm Springs International Short Fest and the Dakota Digital Film Festival.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
93 min., color, DVD, US
Cowabunga dude! These "heroes in a half-shell" have had an amazingly resilient pop cultural longevity, with many sequels, remakes, and subsequent television series. But this is the film that really started it all -- with turtles Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michaelangelo under the guidance of the wise rat Splinter taking on the evil Shredder. Born from the contamination of toxic ooze seeping into the New York City sewer system, these mutants are a reminder that we should never forget that thoughtlessly disposing of waste can lead to surprising and unexpected outcomes: perhaps even pizza-loving ninja turtles!
90 min., color, 35mm, Australia, English
Rolf de Heer, Peter Djigirr
Director Rolf de Heer collaborated closely with the Ramingining Aboriginal community of the Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern Territory to create this absorbing and stylish paean to the rich oral traditions of Aboriginal Australia. On their annual expedition, Minygululu discovers that his younger brother Dayindi covets his third and youngest wife. To help him live "the proper way," Minygululu tells Dayindi a cautionary tale of wrong love, kidnapping, sorcery, and inept revenge, set in the mythical past, replete with bawdy humor. Blending anthropology and modern storytelling, Ten Canoes
features inspired black and white cinematography for the framing device and saturated color for the story within the story, and captures the full otherworldly potential of the Arafura swamp region.
That Which Once Was
21 min., color, Blue-Ray, United States, English
In the future, being an environmental refugee -- someone displaced by a natural disaster -- will be an increasingly common occurrence. Kimi Takesue's touching film imagines such a future as seen through the eyes of Vicente, an 8-year-old Caribbean orphan, who has lost his family to flooding and now has to fend for himself in a somewhat inhospitable orphanage. After he bonds with Siku (Natar Ungalaq, star ofAtanarjuat: The Fast Runner
), an ice carver who has also lost a great deal, he finds the courage to begin to deal with his memories. Future States Audience Award Winner and a selection of the 2011 SXSW Film Festival.
The Three Caballeros
69 min., color, Video, United States, English
Originally conceived as a film to "carry a message of democracy and friendship below the Rio Grande," The Three Caballeros
similarly used animated birds to promote US/Latin America relations and was the first Disney feature to combine animation and live action footage. The jokes are spot-on and the animation gorgeous in this tale of Donald Duck and his two Latin buds — the Brazilian parrot Joe Carioca and Panchito the Mexican rooster — who take Donald on a spectacular and outrageous tour of countries and cultures in Latin America, highlighted by dance and song.
26 min., color, Blu-Ray, Canada, English
The cubicle. Familiar as this most ubiquitous and monotonous of workplaces is, it can be easy to forget that the cubicle is, in fact, an environment all its own. And for many Americans, it is the
modern "landscape of labor" -- the location where we spend the majority of our waking hours. Zaheed Mawani's film introduces us to the history of the cubicle, the workers who manufacture cubicle furniture, and some denizens of cubicle-dom -- trying not to let their external environment overwhelm their internal dreams and ambitions! Trust us, if you've ever worked in a cubicle this one is not to be missed.
65 min., color, DVD, Brazil, Portuguese with English subtitles
Felipe Milanez, Bernardo Loyola
Zé Cláudio and Maria -- environmentalists, nut collectors, residents of New Ipixuna in Brazil, and martyrs. In May 2011, two gunmen killed this couple, perhaps not coincidentally on the same day Brazil's government voted to decrease national forestry protections. In this first-person account, director Feilipe Milanez, a personal friend, reveals their lives in the months before their deaths and follows the investigation into their murders. He also explores the violent struggles now taking place between squatters, foresters, government agents, and environmental activists -- all guided by their own beliefs and values about what the future direction of the Amazon should be. Filmmaker scheduled to be in attendance
93 min., color, 35mm, Germany, German (English subtitles)
Dying was so 20th century! In the near future, those who can afford it will be able to transfer their mental selves into new host bodies to extend their lives without missing a beat. In his compelling and emotional drama, Damir Lukacevic examines the consequences of this possibility through the story of Hermann and Anna, a well-to-do German couple facing Anna's imminent death from cancer. In a bid to save their love, they purchase the bodies of Apolain and Sarah, "volunteers" from poverty-stricken African nations, whose families are promised significant financial compensation in return. By day, Hermann and Anna control the bodies, startling their friends and neighbors with their youthful new selves and unsettling themselves over the question of transferring into black bodies. By night, Apolain and Sarah regain control of themselves for four hours each evening. At odds at first, the two come to develop a love -- a love which may threaten Hermann and Anna's love and which leads all four to reconsider what it means to live and die and to be oneself. A fascinating sci-fi film touching on issues of race, transnationalism, poverty, resource use, life and death -- this is a MUST see! Winner and nominee for prizes at Shriekfest, Biberach, London Sci-Fi, Schwerin Art of Film, Brussels International Festival of Fantasy, and Emden International Film Festivals.
93 min., color, Blu-Ray, Philippines, English, Hebrew, Filipino, and Tagalog with English subtitles
Moises is just a single dad trying to make a life for his 4-year old son, Joshua. Janet is just a single mom trying to make a life for her teenage daughter, Yael. But for these four living as an extended family, plus Janet's newly-arrived friend, Tina, nothing is simple. That's because all are Filipino immigrants living in Israel at a time when the Israeli government has begun deporting children of migrant workers. In this drama that lingers with you long after you leave the theater, you'll witness several days in the life of this family, seeing the events and experiences from each person's perspective and discovering the challenges of trying to belong as an outsider in a society as culturally unique as Israel. See why The Hollywood Reporter
calls the film a "powerful" look at children "living in the shadow of their parents' anxiety and caught in between conflicting identities." Winner Best Film and Director at the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, Official Selection of the Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Jewish Jerusalem, Hong Kong Asian, and Busan Film Festivals and Philippines' entry to the 86th Academy Awards.
62 min., color, Blu-Ray, United States, English
When we have trouble envisioning the future, it makes it more difficult to find reasons for optimism in our present day. Enter choreographer Allison Orr - her mission is to find visions of beauty and dance in our everyday life. But her latest project may be her most challenging yet: trying to find hope in trash collection. For several months, she works alongside the Austin, Texas sanitation workers -- seeing in their movements and interactions with their equipment a beauty and a unique knowledge about place. Virginia, Don, Ivory, Orange and other workers are wary: just who is this crazy woman riding along on their trucks? With unbowed optimism, Orr wins them over, convincing them to volunteer for her dance project. Finally, the night of the outdoor performance arrives. The skies have been pouring rain. Some of the performers are still uncertain about their participation: a performance piece about trash collection!?!? Will anyone even show up? A glorious reminder of the power of individual vision to restore hope and to reshape our appreciation of the world. Winner of Audience Awards at the SXSW, Full Frame, Silverdocs, Woods Hole, Docuwest, Heartland, Sedona, and Rockport Film Festivals and featured at over 20 other film festivals!
This film is a work in progress
60 min., color, Digital File, U.S., Portuguese with English subtitles
As the Belo Monte dam is completed in the Western Amazon, life there will never be the same again. Thirteen year-old Kamodjara and her family leave their Amazonian reservation to protest the project displacing their people. In a nearby town, Kamodjara is separated from her father and kidnapped by sex traffickers. Meanwhile, in Brasilia, Roberto Demedici, a bureaucrat in the agency for indigenous people, is bribed to convince the tribes to accept the dam. When Roberto arrives in the Amazon and requests a prostitute, the two meet. Kamodjara is desperate to find her family again and Roberto offers to help her. The two begin a journey to find them; but can Kamodjara ever trust Roberto's intentions? This work-in-progress film, of which selected clips will be screened with the director, highlights the ripples that radiate throughout the social fabric whenever big development transforms local communities. Filmmaker scheduled to be in attendance with Q+A.
Trouble the Water
96 min., color, 35mm, US
Tia Lessin and Carl Deal
The accolades bestowed upon Trouble the Water
have not stopped coming since the film premiered last year. Named one of the best films of 2008 by Time
, The New Yorker
, The New York Times
, and Entertainment Weekly
and also receiving nominations from the Producer's Guild of America and the Academy Awards, Trouble the Water
is simply, as Manohla Dargis of The New York Times
put it, "one of the best American documentaries in recent memory." The film makes use of footage shot by aspiring rap artist Kimberly Rivers Roberts, as she and her neighbors in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans are trapped by Hurricane Katrina. What follows is an extraordinary portrait of terror, survival, and redemption. The film makes you question all over again the events surrounding the hurricane and how Americans think about and respond to natural disasters. An absolute MUST-SEE film!
Under the Dome
100 min., color, Digital File, China, Chinese with English subtitles
Who doesn't like a good TED talk? They're informative and entertaining glimpses of world-changing ideas. But can such a talk by itself change the planet? Chai Jing is a former journalist with China Central Television. Earlier this year, she self-financed and released online a filmed version of her TED-style talk documenting her investigations into the dangers of China's extreme air pollution. In a measured and dispassionate style laced with conviction, she pleads to see her country recognize and fix this problem. And she has a personal motivation: while in utero
her child developed a tumor that may have resulted from Chai's exposure to air pollutants. Sharing this information may not seem radical to American audiences, but in China it has created shockwaves -- the film was downloaded or watched more than 300 million times on Chinese sites in one week, leading the government to block all transmissions of the film in China. So maybe raising one's voice just to talk really can change the world. Film screening to be followed by discussion of Chinese pollution and government led by UW faculty.
Unogumbe (Noah's Flood)
35 min., color, DVD, South Africa, Xhosa with English subtitles
DirectorTales from Planet Earth
has always sought to expand the definition of "environmental film" beyond the usual genre of issue-documentaries. And this year we have found an especially novel genre in the realm of environmental film -- opera. In this soaring rendition of Benjamin Britten's "Noye's Fludde," Mark Dornford-May and his company of South African singers and musicians transpose the 1958 opera telling the story of Noah's Ark to modern day South Africa. This classic Biblical tale of resilience and survival is seen through a mixture of live action re-enactment, shadow puppets, scenes from a rehearsal of the opera, and a performance of the opera itself, all beautifully sung in Xhosa. A can't-miss film in this year's festival! Nominated for Best Short at the Berlin Film Festival.
14 min., color, Digital File, United Kingdom, Hindi (English subtitles)
When the West's clothes are truly no longer wanted by anyone, they travel to a place unheard of by most people -- Panipat, India. Here, after a journey of thousands of miles clothes are sorted by color, stripped of buttons and snaps, and then gradually unravelled back into yarn and thread to be reused in other clothes. Reshma and her friends work at one of the city's cloth recycling factories. In this lively short, we see the world through their eyes, as they imagine the places these clothes have traveled from and the lives of the people who would wear such things. Official selection of the Silverdocs, Sydney, Edinburgh Short, Austin, and Calgary Film Festivals
59 min., color, PAL Digibeta, Germany
Hailed by reviewers as "one of the Toronto Film Festival's Must See Films" and a powerfully "rare story of environmental triumph," German director Ben Kempas' Upstream Battle
takes us to the Klamath River in northern California, where Native American tribes have spent decades fighting to preserve their traditional fishing rights from the threats of damming and agriculture. Yet the battle over these fishing rights, like so many environmental tales, is not a simple story of right and wrong. As the operators of the local dams point out, in an era when carbon emissions and global warming are of paramount concern, hydroelectric power offers one of the cleanest sources of energy. Ultimately, Upstream Battle
offers hope that even in the most complex environmental challenges, there may be room for compromise and constructive outcomes.
Voyage to Next
9 min., color, DVD, US
Mother Earth and Father Time examine the state of the planet Earth. Humankind has divided itself into a system of nationalistic boxes. Father Time projects twenty years of horror. Mother Earth and Father Time discuss the foolish choices humans have made in the past. The humans realize their plight and begin to imagine their preferred worlds. One of several films by John and Faith Hubley shown as part of a retrospective celebration of their work.
Vultures of Tibet
21 min., color, Digital File, U.S./Tibet/China, Tibetan and Chinese with English subtitles
In parts of Tibet there is an ancient funeral tradition of "Sky Burial," where families feed the bodies of their deceased in ritual ceremonies to wild Griffon Vultures -- allowing the body to nourish and benefit the natural world. But this ancient tradition is under threat -- from tourism. In a moment when grieving families want to focus on the sacred, they increasingly are encountering the profane -- Chinese tourists with their video cameras and tour guides, jockeying to capture the ritual as something grotesque. This documentary short is at times beautiful and at times shocking, but always it provides an incisive lens onto larger questions of modern Tibetan identity and politics today. Official selection of the AFI Docs, Edinburgh, and Palm Springs Film Festivals.
Walking the Camino
84 min., color, DCP, U.S., English, French, and Spanish with English subtitles
Since the 9th century A.D., pilgrims from across Europe have walked the Camino de Santiago -- the way across northern Spain to the Santiago de Compostela where a shrine to the remains of St. James sits. Today, more than 200,000 people every year from across the globe set out on the more than 500-mile journey. Along the way, they stay in hostels known as albergues
and receive food and medical treatment from volunteers, gradually becoming a mobile, extended family of fellow travelers. This uplifting, moving, and at times funny film offers the story of six different pilgrims each overcoming blisters, bad knees, heartache, self-doubt, or addiction to discover something inside themselves -- a renewed sense of self, of time, of space, of family, or even of romance. Winner of festival and audience awards at the American Documentary, Rainier, Newport Beach, Hollywood, Ft. Lauterdale, and Mt. Hood Film Festivals.
98 min., color, Blu-Ray, United States, English and Portuguese (English subtitles)
Brazilian-born artist Vik Muniz has won international acclaim for his artwork made from recycled materials. But his work took on deeper resonance when he returned to Rio de Janerio and visited the pickers working Jardim Gramacho, the largest landfill in the world. Making portraits of the pickers using materials from the landfill itself, Muniz helps to raise funds for new equipment, training, a library, and community improvement. A heart-warming and critically-acclaimed portrait of the power of art to make social change, this film is a reminder that we have more means available to us than we may think to create change for causes close to our hearts. Academy Award nominee and winner of awards at the Sundance, Berlin, Seattle, and Sao Paulo Film Festivals.
22 min., color, Digital File, U.S./Canada, English
Resistance is not futile. In 2013, Texas-based SWN Resources arrived in New Brunswick, Canada to explore for natural gas. The region is known for its forestry, farming, and fishing industries, now all under the threat of fracking's impacts to the region's water supply. In response, a multicultural group of unlikely warriors comes together. Members of the Mi’kmaq Elsipogtog First Nation, French-speaking Acadians, and English-speaking families all set up a series of road blockades in an attempt to halt the company's trucks and the project. Can they succeed despite their historic differences and previous lack of local cooperation? Can David ever beat Goliath? Perhaps in a democracy, for once the people might actually have power rather than be at the mercy of it.
The Weather War
58 min., color, Blu-Ray, Sweden, English and Swedish (English subtitles)
Lars Bergström, Mats Bigert
Lars Bergström and Mats Bigert are interested in humans' obsession with control -- specifically, what drives people to try to control nature and bend it to their purposes. InWeather War
, these zany Swedish visionaries travel to the United States' tornado belt with a special machine-sculpture to explore whether this could possibly help control the weather by deflecting tornadoes. As they journey with stormchasers and meterologists amid heart-stopping thunderstorms and tornadoes touching down, they also take us on a larger journey through the global history of efforts to control the weather, whether for military ends or to try to avert calamity in the face of climate change. What is the future of such endeavors in a world where climate issues and people becoming refugees from weather events are increasingly a reality? A fascinating film profiling individuals with an offbeat style, this one is well worth checking out! Official selection of the Docville International, Planete Doc International and CinemAbiente Environmental Film Festivals.
What's on Your Plate?
73 min., color, DVD, US
From books - such as Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation
and Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma
- to films - such as Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me
and Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney's King Corn
- the American public has received numerous warnings in the last 10 years about the changing global food system and its consequences for public health and the environment. But Catherine Gund raises the question of whether these messages are reaching our most vulnerable food consumers - America's children. In this rollicking film, Gund follows two New York City pre-teens, Sadie and Safiyah, as they take their own journey across the systems that provide them with food and take charge of their health against the onslaught of unhealthy food choices bombarding them. An official selection of the 2009 Berlin Film Festival, What's On Your Plate?
is a film your whole family should experience together. Filmmakers were in attendance.
When Two Worlds Collide
100 min., color, DCP, Peru, Spanish with English subtitles
Heidi Brandenburg, Mathew Orzel
“The police are called ‘heroes’ because they fought against an enemy. But what does that make us?” In 2009, President Alan Garcia declared Peru open for business, welcoming a free trade agreement with the U.S. that would give multinational corporations unfettered access to Amazonian resources traditionally held communally by indigenous communities. In response, indigenous leader Alberto Pizango led concerted opposition, staging protests that blocked roads across the nation and took hostage a gas plant and several soldiers sent to quell the uprisings. Through “hair-raising footage” (Variety
) this masterful documentary takes you through the maelstrom of events on both sides—from pitched arguments in the halls of the Peruvian Congress to behind-the-scenes efforts to secret Pizango out the window when his organization is surrounded. From the frontlines of a bloody confrontation to the quiet of a rainforest under threat, this comprehensive and balanced account is pulse-pounding investigative journalism at its finest that makes the lived consequences of abstract trade agreements all too stark. Winner of awards at the Sundance, Cinemambiente, Shanghai, Docufest, and DocumentaMadrid Film Festivals and official selection of over 20 more festivals.
(Film contains graphic images of violence)
10 min., color, 35mm, U.S.
Whither Weather explores the interplay between Earth life and Earth climate. We see how weather affects food; how food, or lack of it, affects people, and how people, in turn, affect weather. We experience the current eco-catastrophe and wonder whether our tampering will result in a new ice age or in an equally dangerous global heating. Part of a retrospective of the award-winning animation of John and Faith Hubley.
The Wild Life
14 min., color, Digital File, Canada
Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby
The year is 1909 and the world beckons. For one English dandy, a comet streaking through life without much gravitas, the wild frontier that calls him is Alberta. Here he settles down to begin life playing cowboy. To the locals, he is a curious if harmless phenomenon. To his family back home, he is the wayward son trying to find himself. And what is he to himself living "in the wild"? Well, nature has an unforgiving way of sorting these things out. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
Wild New York
24 min., color, PAL DVD, South Africa
In the past two decades, many jaded New Yorkers have come to realize that nature truly is everywhere, even in a place as seemingly human-dominated and artificial as New York City. Sightings of coyotes and celebrity critters, such as the red-tailed hawks Pale Male and Lola, have given the human fauna of the city a renewed sense of kinship with their non-human cousins. Adam Welz's engaging Wild New York
offers a lively profile of some of the people who have become dedicated urban wildlife watchers and the hawks, kestrels, and peregrine falcons that have provided them with company in the midst of the United States' most urbanized landscape. Filmmaker was in attendance.
A Will For the Woods
93 min., color, Digital File, United States, English
Amy Browne, Jeremy Kaplan, Tony Hale, Brian Wilson
What happens to us when we die -- not our souls, but our earthly remains? For the majority of Americans today, we will be buried, cremated, or entombed in a method that releases toxic chemicals into the environment and prevents our bodies from decaying. When Duke University psychiatrist Clark Wang found out that he had terminal leukemia, he decided he wanted a different fate. Tapping into the burgeoning "green burial" movement, Wang helped convince cemetaries and other land owners in North Carolina to create natural spaces where bodies can be laid to rest as simply as possible in beautiful environments. Moreover, he discovered that in so doing he might help to preserve land even after his death. A beautiful, uplifting film with amazing access to Wang and his family as they face the last five years of his life, this film will leave you with a sense of hope about our ability to find peace in meeting everyone's inescapable fate. Official selection of the Full Frame and AFI Docs Film Festivals.
The Winged Scourge
10 min., color, DVD, United States, English
Bill Justice, Bill Roberts
There's a menace on the loose and it could be coming to a window screen near you -- the anopheles
mosquito, carrier of the dreaded malaria! In 1943, as part of the war effort, the U.S. government enlisted Disney to spread the word about how to deal with this deadly and tiny threat. In turn, Disney turned to seven of its most bankable stars (you may know them as Happy, Grumpy, Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful, Dopey, and Doc)! Some of the dwarves' techniques for malaria control -- filling wetlands and spraying oil on the surface of ponds -- no longer enjoy favor among environmentalists, whereas others, namely spraying chemicals, continue to provoke unresolved debates among environmental and public health advocates. One of the earliest films to promote chemical control of mosquitoes and a classic example of wartime propaganda.
Yes Men Fix the World
90 min., color, Digibeta, US
Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno, and Kurt Engfehr
Following up on their smash success from 2003, The Yes Men
, professional rabble-rousers Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno are back in a sequel, Yes Men Fix the World
. The mission of The Yes Men is to produce razor-edged satire that exposes corporate hypocrisy and the institutions of power around the globe that lock us into unsustainable lifestyles without our knowledge or consent. In their first film, the target was the World Trade Organization. This time around, they are taking on a variety of corporate targets - Dow Chemical Company and its refusal to acknowledge responsibility in the Bhopal disaster, Exxon-Mobil, contractors cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina, and more. Tthe only film at our festival that opens with a rousing water ballet and that managed to knock $2 billion off the stock value of a single corporation - almost 400 people joined us for a rousing end to the festival weekend! A selection of the 2009 Sundance, Berlin, and Hot Docs Film Festivals and winner of the Audience Award at the Berlin Film Festival!