CPH:SCIENCE is dedicated to the growing field between film and science. The opening night of the science programme will be the World Premiere of the documentary The Most Unknown by Ian Cheney, with Werner Herzog as advisor.
Films in the program include Jane, Inventing Tomorrow, Alphago and The Ancient Woods. This year we also introduce the Science Film Forum to our Industry activities. Science Film Forum is part of this years bigger focus on Science and seeks to spark new collaboration between filmmakers and scientists and serve as an incubator for creative documentary film and new media projects that can engage a broader audience in science and its impact on society. A selection of 7 creative documentary film and new media projects on science and technology will be presented to potential financiers, distributors, co-production partners and collaborators. Science is also the theme of one of the days of CPH:CONFERENCE presented in partnership with Documentary Campus, a 5-day event exploring the intersections of film, journalism, technology, science, art and new media.
The Most Unknown
A scientific exploration of the unknown, where the greatest mysteries of physics and nature can be found at the bottom of the ocean and in outer space. Dark matter, the deep sea and extraterrestrial life are just some of the phenomena we find most difficult to observe and understand. But in ‘The Most Unknown’, we try to approach what is beyond our perception. We join an astrophysicist on his field work at geothermal springs in the desert, a cognitive researcher presents attempts to understand human consciousness, and primitive forms of life are collected in deep caves in Italy and by oceanographers on coral reefs close to Costa Rica. Ian Cheney’s film demonstrates how a meeting of researchers can take place across disciplines, and it is a magnificent portrait of the desire of modern research to understand the unknown and make it tangible. A project, which brings us all the way where research is not about results and peer reviews, but about approaching adventure.
Man vs. machine in the ultimate showdown: the South Korean world champion meets Google DeepMind for a game of the Asian board game Go. Do you remember the shock when IBM’s chess computer Deep Blue won against the chess genius Garry Kasparov in 1997? Since then, the Asian board game Go has been the ultimate test for artificial intelligence. The over 2500-year-old and superficially simple, but infinitely complex game makes chess look like Connect Four. So when the ruling world champion, the South Korean Lee Sedol, last year fought against Google’s DeepMind programme, the whole world held its breath. And you will too, when you see ‘Alphago’ – even if you know how the five games between man and machine actually ended. Lee fights for humanity in a nerve-racking showdown, where technology itself is put to the ultimate test. A sober, thought-provoking and immensely captivating film about a phenomenon that will revolutionise our world down to the smallest detail.
The Third Industrial Revolution
The visionary economist and data analyst Jeremy Rifkin finds radical solutions and new ideas in the challenges that the world is facing. The third industrial revolution is here. Experiments with renewable energy, new production methods and the connectivity of the internet are revolutionising the way we live, work and consume. But it is a race against time, as man-made climate change is escalating at the same time and the consideration of profit is still determining the decisions made for the future of the planet. But if you think that there are not enough solid, theory-based visions of the future, then hope can be found in the visionary American economist and data analyst Jeremy Rifkin, who here presents all of his most visionary ideas. Rifkin – who visited CPH:DOX in 2014 – argues for rapid change, and aggregates huge amounts of data into understandable, original and eye-opening theories of how we can safely welcome the future.
Point of No Return
A fascinating and adventurous film about the breakneck attempt of two pilots to fly all the way around the world with nothing but solar energy! Two pilots and a team of engineers set out to prove that solar energy is the future. How? By flying all the way round the planet with the sun’s rays as their only fuel! A journey of 40,000 kilometres, which becomes an enormous adventure for the two pilots. Bertrand Piccard is a psychiatrist and balloon skipper, and his team-mate André Borschberg is a fighter pilot. Both are also true characters and pure-blooded adventurers, and their breakneck transatlantic journey becomes an epic and emotional experience for everyone in the highly passionate team behind the Solar Impulse project. They all give everything they have in terms of ideas and technical skills to make the circumnavigation of the planet succeed. And to help Piccard and Borschberg arrive in one piece in spite of tornadoes and emergency landings. A film, which takes a bright look at the future, technology and society.
A group of visionary young scientists from all over the world with surprising solutions to acute problems fight their way to the world championship in science. With visionary ideas, talent and a great deal of imagination, young scientists from all over the world are working to qualify for the world championship in science. But not only that. The 16-year-old Indian Sahithi is trying to develop a solution to the pollution of Bangalore’s beautiful lakes, which are filling the streets with unmanageable mountains of poisonous foam, while her young colleagues from Hawaii, Mexico and Indonesia offer original and effective suggestions to solve problems in their countries that are just as pressing. Their living conditions vary widely, but they share a sense of optimism and curiosity, as they work together and individually with potentially groundbreaking ideas, which can take them to the International Science and Engineering Fair ISEF in the United States – and from there out into the world that so massively needs them. Laura Nix follows the exciting and at times nerve-racking process up close, and it is impossible not to be deeply impressed and inspired by seeing such young minds think so radically out of the box.
A great film about the legendary primatologist Jane Goodall, who became world famous as the first person to study the life of chimpanzees. One of the modern era’s most important primatologists and female research pioneers, Jane Goodall, is portrayed in Brett Morgen’s elegant archive film with beautifully restored turquoise-green jungle images, and a tender-aged Goodall during her first years as a field researcher. In the unique images, which nobody knew existed anymore, we experience Goodall find her vocation and lay the basis for her life’s work. But even her career and family life is woven into a film that gives us a rare and sensuous impression of her first year in Gombe, as she falls in love with the cinematographer Hugo from National Geographic and engages in dangerous interactions with the primates. Goodall became world-famous when her life as a biologist was adapted as the film classic ‘Gorillas in the Mist’, and her passion for both her subject-matter and for the animals are nothing short of deeply inspiring at a time when the relationship between human beings and animals is the subject of renewed interest. And the director Brett Morgen (‘Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck’) once again demonstrates that he is among the world’s leading filmmakers when it comes to breathing life into rare, historical archive footage.
The Ancient Woods
Biodiversity in the ancient woods gets a new breath of life in a unique, dialogue-free film developed in collaboration with biologists. The diversity of wildlife has gradually become invisible for us in the industrialised landscapes that surround the cities where most people live today. All the more reason to let yourself be astonished and amazed by the abundance of life in a film that was developed in collaboration with biologists and which – without commentaries or other human interference – brings us all the way down into the soil of a Baltic forest. A scientifically founded and cinematically unique experience reminiscent of the works of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab. The black grouse’s mating fight is an unprecedented drama of life and death in Mindaugas Survila’s research-based study of the most rare species of the Baltic forests. ‘The Ancient Woods’ is an ode to the forest as both a habitat and a fantasy.
For, against – or in doubt? A personal and entertaining film about a choice that preoccupies more and more people: to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. The collective scepticism towards vaccines is larger in the progressive Berlin neighbourhood of Kreuzberg than anywhere else in the Western world. Here, measles became commonplace among many families a few years ago, due to a rare eruption of the disease. And Kreuzberg is also where the German filmmaker and future father David Sieveking lives. His girlfriend is a sceptic, and David has his doubts. Should they let their child be vaccinated? A question that becomes the starting point for a personal journey into the pharmaceutical world – and beyond. ‘Family Shots’ is a film that is both curious and critical in its approach to a discussion that preoccupies more and more people. No matter whether you are for or against vaccines, or just have your doubts, there is plenty of food for though in Sieveking’s both serious and entertaining film. For there are quite a few people who have both a private and a professional opinion about preventive medicine.
Gambling, Gods and LSD
One of the last fifteen years’ most magnificent and visionary documentaries is a monument to ecstasy as a source of happiness – and new knowledge. If you did not yet see Peter Mettler’s masterpiece at the very first edition of CPH:DOX in 2003, you have the opportunity to do so this year, where we celebrate the world premiere of his and Emma Davies’s ‘Becoming Animal’ with a special screening of the film that set new, visionary standards for documentary originality. ‘Gambling, Gods and LSD’ is about achieving happiness and a deeper insight through ecstasy. A picturesque cinematic travel journal from America via Europe to India. And from philosophy and religion via rave parties to a conversation with Albert Hofmann – the chemist who invented LSD. Mettler’s journey around the world starts in his home town of Toronto with a Christian cult, which dances and sings its way into the ether, and ends with a visit to a laughter club in Mumbai. A happy ending? For Mettler, travelling is the journey’s actual goal, and he has a highly unusual openness for accepting what comes his way. Three hours of thought-provoking grandeur, which in itself will lift your spirits, maybe even make you ecstatic – and certainly leaves you with new knowledge about the great, mad world we live in.
Past and present meet in an epic road movie through Central Asia to Japan. Adventure and intrigues, life and death, the downfall of nations – as told by a dead Finn. At the beginning of the 20th century, when there were still empty spots on the world map, the Finnish philologist G.J. Ramstedt travelled through Central Asia to Japan. Like a true adventurer, he kept a diary in the grand style that we hear on the soundtrack, while the contrast to today’s landscapes and, especially, cities is highlighted in the film’s imagery shot during the two Finnish filmmakers’ journey in his footsteps. ‘Eastern Memories’ is both an essay portraying a scientist and a magnificent travel film, which spans over ten thousand kilometres and has a hundred years of historical experiences in its luggage. The duo Niklas Kullström and Martti Kaartinen have created a breathtaking film with an edge of bone-dry Finnish humour – told, as it is, by a dead Finn from the cold North on the fringes of the Mongolian steppes. The landscapes become the canvas on which fantasy and expectation can paint their dreams of greatness and adventure.
Picture of Light
In search of northern lights in a beautiful and philosophical film from the end of the world, with music by Jim O’Rourke. Since the dawn of time, Aurora Borealis – or just northern lights – have invited the imaginations among the few lucky people, who have had the opportunity to experience the phenomenon at first hand, to go rampant. And even though modern science today can explain what we see, the magic remains the same. ‘Picture of Light’ was one of the first films that actually immortalised the delicate waves of northern lights. Created during an expedition far out in the Canadian wilderness with an excentric meteorologist and a small film crew, where the journey – as always with Peter Mettler – is both an adventure in itself and a tribute to the freedom of thought. ‘We live at a time when things don’t seem to exist if they are not captured as an image. But if you look into darkness with your eyes closed, you can see the reflection of light on your retina – much like the flickering of northern lights, much like the movement of thought.’ A magnum opus among the films that paved the way for the breakthrough of modern documentary filmmaking.
Reference: https://cphdox.dk/program/serier-og-temaer/?ser=53 2018