Oscar Watch: 2 Aspen Ideas Films Make the Shortlist
Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the shortlist of documentaries that will progress into the voting process for the Oscars. Among the 15 are two films that screened at Aspen Ideas Festival.
Chasing Ice (Watch post-screening discussion here.)
In the spring of 2005, internationally renowned environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a tricky assignment: to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth's changing climate. Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change and the veracity of computer models. But that first trip north opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history and sparked a challenge within him that would put his career and his very well-being at risk. Within months, he conceived the boldest expedition of his life: the Extreme Ice Survey. With a band of young adventurers in tow, Balog began deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world's changing glaciers. Battling untested technology in subzero conditions, Balog comes face to face with his own mortality. His hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate. Chasing Ice depicts a photographer trying to deliver evidence and hope to our carbon-powered planet.
Detropia (Watch post-screening discussion here.)
Detroit was the birthplace of the middle class, an industrial utopia where anyone who worked hard enough could experience the “American dream.” Today, Detroit is on the brink of bankruptcy. In the past 10 years this Midwestern icon has lost 25% of its population and 50% of its manufacturing jobs. City officials are in the midst of the most dramatic “downsizing” of an American city ever seen - demolishing thousands of homes, reconsolidating massive tracts of excess land, cutting basic services and encouraging Detroiters in marginal neighborhoods to move. Detroiters who have stuck with the city are at the breaking point. Artists and curious outsiders flock to the city in search of inspiration and opportunity. Racial tension, globalization, lack of innovation and greed has led to a moment of truth for Detroit. How the Motor City reboots itself will set the example for countless other post-industrial cities with similar fates. And today the entire country is watching to see if this storied metropolis has the courage, creativity and grit to reinvent itself—instead of implode.