232 Third St. at 3rd Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11215
Germantown Ave & N 2nd St, Philadephia, PA 19123
The City Dark (Ian Cheney | Brooklyn, NY | 84 min.)
The City Dark, which was awarded the Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund Edgeworx Post-Production Grant in 2009, is a deep exploration of the complex issues involving light pollution. Broken up into chapters, The City Dark moves across the globe -- from Times Square, where, arguably, night never comes; to one of New York City’s few remaining observatories, at the College of Staten Island; to “Sky Village,” a haven for astronomers and stargazers in rural Arizona; to the best place on earth to view the night sky, at the University of Hawaii, where astronomers scan the universe for possible earth-killing asteroids -- and which, itself, is threatened by the lights of the cities beneath the volcano. The film is beautifully shot -- Cheney’s love of stars and love of photography, really shining in the carefully considered cinematography.
Cheney puts his lens on threats to wildlife -- including birds flying into buildings at night, disoriented newborn sea turtles unable to find their way to the sea after hatching, disappearing fireflies -- as well lesser known threats, such as those to humans. Cheney interviews biologists and doctors about the possible connections between nighttime shift work and various cancers.
No matter what, it is clear that electric light is one of the most important factors in having safe cities, and in our having become a technologically advanced and industrialized society. However, The City Dark begs the question, what might we be losing here? In addition to health and environmental issues, perhaps we are also missing our crucial connection to the immediacy of looking up at millions of stars and seeing how small we are -- what astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson calls the “resetting of our egos.”
- Sarah Palmer