I’m sitting at home, on the second day of recovery from a cold. It is the first chance I’ve had to recap the best, worst, and everything in between of films I saw at Full Frame. It is impossible to see everything, and naturally there are films that, after seeing the smiling crowds leaving the screenings, I wish I would have seen. There just isn’t enough time, and I can’t be in two places at once.
Full Frame, and I’m sure other film festivals, have an audience rating system. Some awards explicitly take the audience reaction into consideration. But what can you really tell about a movie from an arbitrary and inherently inaccurate system? Full Frame uses a five-point scale, with audiences tearing a ballot at one of five notches. But what does that mean? A movie that is incredibly important, a heavy-hitting work of journalistic documentary, is rated on the same five point scale as a light, short, funny film featuring a quirky story about a quirky artist. Both films might be fives, as measured subjectively by me and my fellow movie-goers, for very different reasons. It’s like comparing all your girlfriends or boyfriends; at the time, you loved them all, probably for different reasons.
With that in mind, I offer my completely subjective view of the best film I saw at Full Frame, one that I would strongly recommend that everyone see if they have the opportunity. The envelope, please…and the winner is…Chasing Ice!
This film follows the work of James Balog, a very driven nature photographer who created the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) project, an effort to photographically document the retreat of major glaciers around the world. Balog was once a climate-change skeptic. He didn’t know if the the science was right or wrong, but he thought the science was just too complicated to attribute climactic changes to anthropogenic sources. But, after witnessing the retreat of the glaciers, he realized that climate change was real, and there was undeniable visual proof of it taking place today. No one was recording it. He felt that most people would only understand the nature of climate change if there was a potent, visual demonstration of the reality of climate change. The EIS project is his attempt to deliver that visual document of climate change, specifically through time-lapse photography of the retreat of glaciers in Iceland, Greenland, and Alaska.
Chasing Ice is slated to be theatrically released in the fall of 2012. I’m certain the Fox News crowd will huff and puff on its release, but the images are hard to argue against. Anyone who might state that the record pace of glacial retreat is not man made will need to find an equally rapid decline somewhere in the ice core records, and to my knowledge there isn’t a comparable event.
A few of the other films worth watching:
- Beauty is Embarrassing
- Trash Dance
- How To Survive a Plague
- Santa Land
- The Bus
- Jesse Owens
- Eating Alabama
- The Waiting Room
For very different reasons, each of these films was remarkable. What I found most remarkable was that many of them were films from first-time filmmakers. Each of these films is remarkably different, unique, and powerful, and, in my book, deserving of high honors. Full Frame has to have a five-point scale, but these are all A-list movies, in my book.