Preserving Biodiversity to Feed the World

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Thanks again to Atlantic for its occasional short film series, and in this case specifically to Erica Moriarty for bringing our attention to a video by Independent Lens available for sampling over at PBS (click the image above):

In the last century, 94% of the world’s seed varieties have disappeared. Family farmsteads have given way to mechanized agribusinesses to sow genetically identical crops on a massive scale. In an era of climate uncertainty and immense corporate power, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers are on a mission to defend the future of food. Botanical explorer Joseph Simcox has been to over 100 countries, collecting thousands of seeds. In this documentary from Independent Lens, he travels to the Peruvian Amazon. Continue reading

Song of the Sloth Bear

Much of our efforts on this site go to honoring the efforts of conservationists, in the form of scientists, activists, and writers. A special appreciation go to the photographers, filmmakers and artists whose work brings nature into the lives of many who may not normally be exposed to the incredible biodiversity of our world.

Longtime contributor Sudhir Shivaram is one such photographer, and we appreciate his  introduction to this lovely film Daroji by Sugandhi Gadadhar currently in final deliberation at the 2017 Wild & Green Shorts Film Festival, Montana.

Daroji is a short film for children, introducing them to wildlife, specifically those from in and around Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary in Karnataka, India. Bindu, a female Indian Sloth Bear, tells the story of different families, including her own, and shares a friendly note with her audience, suggesting that man and animal can co-exist in harmony.

We wish Ms. Gadadhar the best of luck!

Escapist Noir

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In Melville films starring Alain Delon, cops and robbers feel interchangeable. Illustration by Malika Favre

In these pages our norm is to give visitors reasons to escape urban life and immerse in nature, join conservation initiatives, support communities at home and in faraway places alike. When we need a brief getaway from all that, we occasionally do it in reverse. In places where we can be reminded of mankind’s occasional flashes of genius. One of my favorite critics has me thinking about being in a big, dark room in New York City in the coming days:

This is how you should attend the forthcoming retrospective of Jean-Pierre Melville movies at Film Forum: Tell nobody what you are doing. Even your loved ones—especially your loved ones—must be kept in the dark. If it comes to a choice between smoking and talking, smoke. Dress well but without ostentation. Wear a raincoat, buttoned and belted, regardless of whether there is rain. Any revolver should be kept, until you need it, in the pocket of the coat. Finally, before you leave home, put your hat on. If you don’t have a hat, you can’t go.

Melville was born almost a hundred years ago, on October 20, 1917. The centennial jamboree starts on April 28th and ends on May 11th, followed by a weeklong run of “Léon Morin, Priest” (1961), starring Jean-Paul Belmondo in the title role. (Thanks to Godard’s “Breathless,” released the year before, Belmondo was at the time the coolest Frenchman alive, so what did Melville do? Put him in a dog collar and a black soutane.) In all, the festival, which after New York will travel to other cities, comprises twelve features and one short. Only a single work is missing, a rarity entitled “Magnet of Doom” (1963). Continue reading

Metropolis in Atlanta

 

Fritz Lang's 1927 film “Metropolis” ARCHIVES NEW ZEALAND

Fritz Lang’s 1927 film “Metropolis”
ARCHIVES NEW ZEALAND

In the wake of a U.S. election that left half the population bracing for a dystopian future, it seems a timely moment to present Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent classic, Metropolis. Considered the “father” of science fiction cinema, the film was meticulously restored in 2010.

But it’s the extra element of a live score composed and presented by the Alloy Orchestra that makes this screening an exceptional event. This unusual three man musical ensemble writes and performs live accompaniment to classic silent films using a combination of found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics to generate an amazingly varied array of musical styles.  Continue reading

Save Your Screen Time, Kochi!

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 “main stage” doesn’t start until December, but Kochi is already throbbing with activity – from the Piramal Art Residency at Pepper House to introductions to this year’s participating artists on the KMB Facebook page.

Interested in film and video? The Signs Festival 2016 begins in less than a week at the Kochi Town Hall on September 28th.

SiGNS, the pioneering festival in India for digital videos featuring national level competition for documentaries and short fiction for the prestigious John Abraham National Awards. John Abraham Awards was instituted in 1999 by the Kerala Region of Federation of Film Societies of India  Continue reading

A Birdy Kinda Film

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Image from Evergreen.edu

Given the large amount of bird lovers on this blog, if you have not seen the documentary The Parrots of Telegraph Hill I recommend you watch it (list-keeping birders, on the other hand, might not like it as much). As any of our followers would know, every day on our blog we feature a bird, usually exotic to westerners, on our Bird of the Day post, and frequently have a bird-related post (as you can see below) regarding their habits, migration, population change, and more (I guess I’ll add another one to that list right now!). Continue reading

Putting All That Gee Whiz Technology And Creative Knowhow To Much Better Use

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Two scenes from a virtual-reality “ride” that takes viewers into the realm of whales, fish and sonic and plastic pollution. Credit Dell

One of our favorite sources of “green news” in the early days of this blog five years ago, Mr. Revkin reappears every now and then with something really cool:

To Cut Ocean Trash, Adrian Grenier and Dell Enlist Filmmakers and Virtual Reality

Continue reading

If You Happen To Be in Berlin…

The Berlin International Film Festival 2016 is underway and the submission of the documentary film Olympic Pride, American Prejudice dovetails beautifully with the tradition of Black History Month in the United States.

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice is a feature length documentary exploring the trials and triumphs of 18 African American Olympians in 1936. Set against the strained and turbulent atmosphere of a racially divided America, which was torn between boycotting Hitler’s Olympics or participating in the Third Reich’s grandest affair, the film follows 16 men and two women before, during and after their heroic turn at the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. Continue reading

Dory: Not so Ditzy in Real Life

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Blue tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) at Monterey Bay Aquarium by Wikimedia contributor Tewy.

We’ve all seen the humorously scatterbrained black-and-blue fish Dory in Pixar’s Finding Nemo, but only those who have spent some time snorkeling or diving in tropical waters have seen the real-life surgeonfish–as that class of fish is called–just keep swimming in its natural habitat. Next year, Finding Dory will act as a sequel to the immensely popular aquatic animation film from 2003. Before you watch it in cinemas, you can learn a little about the actual fish that Dory is based on, via BBC Earth:

“I suffer from short-term memory loss,” Dory tells Nemo. “I forget things almost instantly, it runs in my family.”

It’s very funny and ultimately touching, but this depiction is just a little unfair. The fish Dory is based on does not have short-term memory loss. It is rather more awesome than that.

It has several names, including royal blue tang, regal tang and surgeonfish. Its scientific name is Paracanthurus hepatus.

Continue reading

Recycling as a Universal Construct

Although not technically an environmental manifesto, this superbly crafted short film ushers us into a 2-dimensional world built on the depth and power of atomic theory: recycling as a form of immortality.

Congratulations to the director and team for their selection at the Sundance Film Festival, among other achievements.

Click here to view the film via the newyorker website and here for the official featurette.

Birders’ Cinematic Moment

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The last time big name celebrity got attached to a cinematic treatment of birdwatching, the results were underwhelming, though not a total disaster. Just kind of embarrassing if you care about birding and would like the activity to gain more traction with a wider audience. Thanks to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for pointing us to this, and to Ben Kingsley for his participation’s likely boost to its chances for success:

We’re excited about the release of a new birding movie, A Birder’s Guide to Everything. It’s a touching story that explores broad themes of growing up and growing wiser, while following four young actors and Sir Ben Kingsley on the trail of a possibly extinct species.  Continue reading

Cinematic Lunchbox View Of Life in Bombay

THE LUNCHBOX by Ritesh Batra - International Trailer

THE LUNCHBOX by Ritesh Batra – International Trailer

Between the trailer (click above) and the review in the New York Times (see below), The Lunchbox looks worth seeing for audiences in India and abroad–thanks to India Ink for point us to it:

“‘The Lunchbox,’ Ritesh Batra’s debut feature, is a romance that takes place in Mumbai, but its style is more Hollywood than Bollywood, and Old Hollywood at that,” A.O. Scott of The New York Times wrote in his movie review. Continue reading

If You Happen To Be In Boston (Tea Party)

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For many people “The Boston Tea Party” refers to an historical event that formed the tipping point for the American Revolution. But two centuries later (give or take) the name relates to a completely different, but no less iconic, moment in time. In the late 1960’s and early 70’s the #53 Berkeley Street Boston Tea Party was a legendary live-music venue featuring musicians from local bands to the Blues, Rock and Pop icons of day.

Music wasn’t the only dimension to a Boston Tea Party experience. Filmmaker Ken Brown cut his “creative teeth” as part of the team creating the venue’s light shows and visual effects.

We actually have one of the coveted DVDs of this work, but those not lucky enough to have one or to have been in Boston 40 years ago have the opportunity to make up for it now …

On Sunday at 7 p.m. at [Boston’s] Institute of Contemporary Art, Brown will screen “Psychedelic Cinema,” a 55-minute compilation of his Tea Party work, and answer questions afterward. The silent film will be accompanied by a live performance by Ken Winokur of Alloy Orchestra, Beth Custer of Club Foot Orchestra, and Jonathan LaMaster of Cul de Sac. Brown’s Tea Party work screened at the Coolidge Corner Theater in 2008, one of only a handful of public showings. We spoke by phone this week. Continue reading

Rainforests, Primary And Otherwise

Thanks to the Guardian for bringing this to our attention:

At an age when freedom passes allow pensioners to take on the challenge of clambering to the top deck of a bus, Dr Francis Hallé is more likely to be found perched at the top of a tree.

The retired professor of botany is 75 and has just completed his first film. In it he can be seen standing, without a safety rope, on a branch of a massive moabi tree 230 feet above the forest floor. Continue reading

High Tide in New York City

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(all photos ©Ken Brown)
In India, as with the rest of the world, sometimes life gets the best of us and we miss out on the cyclical events that have marked time for millennia. Once again we have Ken Brown to thank for both bringing this event to our attention and documenting it so well.
I know it sounds like something from the Discovery Channel, but a truly remarkable event takes place each year when a 460 million year mating ritual is enacted on the beaches of New York City during a full moon high tide. Continue reading

Communities Acting Collectively With Entrepreneurial Leadership

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Thanks to this interview podcast on Fresh Air, we learned about Ava DuVernay and through her we learned about @AFFRM (click the banner above to go to their site, and be sure to read her interview with Director Spike Lee). DuVernay is a cultural entrepreneur, par excellence, and we salute her sense of community and collaboration:

Before she started making movies a few years ago, DuVernay made a name for herself through her marketing and publicity firm DVA Media + Marketing, which has handled films by brand-name directors like Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg. Continue reading

Are you doing a Big Year?

 

I was working from the internet café during a windy day last week-end when I thought I was squinting again. “Did you see that bird? It has two tails!” my colleague Martin exclaimed entering the room a little later. I checked out the sighting: a racket-tailed drongo. The most surprising, graceful creature I have ever seen. Actually, I didn’t know much about birding before I got here. Since then, I’ve learned about the fallouts following a storm, the threats to bird migration and the ethics of the birder. As of yesterday, thanks to India’s cable tv, I’ve learnt from a Hollywood movie that birding can also be a competition. Continue reading

“3 idiots”: a Bollywood must-see

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One of the most memorable weeks of my childhood was during a summer holiday in Mauritius spent with my brother and cousins with no adult available to take us to the beach. We kept going back and forth to the video store because all there was on television were Bollywood movies with no subtitles. Since then I’ve been pretty biased against Bollywood movies, there’s only so much Shannen Doherty direct-to-video one can take, you know? So when I met friends from Bombay, I asked them for an outstanding Bollywood movie. They said: “You’ve got to see 3 idiots“. That same night a friend from Tanzania wrote on his Facebook wall: “Make your passion your profession.! #The 3 Idiots.” So it was written in the stars, I had to see this movie.

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Documentaries : Black Out by Eva Weber, children searching for the light

Short electricity cuts punctuate the day here in Kerala. As if to remind us, for a few seconds in our daily life, that the electricity fairy can play hard to get. Generators always kick in in an instant though, and that is it. Elsewhere, in Guinea for instance, generators are not there to save the day. 

Only about a fifth of Guinea’s people have access to electricity. With few families able to afford generators, school children have had to get creative to find a place to read, do their homework and study for exams. So every day during exam season, as the sun sets over Conakry, hundreds of children begin a nightly pilgrimage to the  G’bessia International Airport, to petrol stations and parks in wealthier areas of the city, searching for light.

Continue reading