by Kate Gellene
January 10th, 2012

Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund Grantee “The City Dark” opens at the IFC Center for one week only, starting Wednesday, January 18th. Tickets are available online or at the IFC Center Box Office: 323 6th Ave at W 3rd St.

Each year as the fall sets in, and winter looms, I’m among the first to lament the darkened early afternoon sky – and I know that I’m not alone. Humanity has always had an affinity for the light, and a fear of the dark. But whatever darkness has come to represent, it retains a kind of mysterious beauty. While the evenings are slowly on their way to brightening, it is easy to forget that illumination can sometimes become too bright.  Rooftop Alum Ian Cheney’s Filmmakers Fund film, The City Dark, is a thoughtful reminder of the importance of darkness, and the ways that light and dark effect our lives and our environment. After months of touring festivals and screens around the world, the 2009 Filmmakers Fund Grantee has returned for its New York City theatrical premiere at the IFC Center on January 18th.

The City Dark begins as an investigation of the night sky — or rather of its disappearance. Cheney describes his passion for astronomy and astrophotography as a child growing up in Maine, a passion that became impossible to fulfill when he moved to New York City. A curiosity bloomed from his loss, and he began to investigate the larger scale impacts of brightening the modern world. The project begins with astronomers, most of whom have been displaced by light pollution to the remote corners of the world. His inquiry also extends to some more unlikely places: interviews with neuroscientists, cancer researchers, Chicago ‘bird collision monitors’, and the sea turtles on the beaches of Boca Raton.

On the verge of my sixth year in New York, and a lifetime just nearby in New Jersey, I have grown fond of the foggy purple, pink, and blue glow in the sky above. As an urbanite it can be easy to forget that it could be any other way. Ian Cheney’s beautiful shots of the night sky in Hawaii, Bar Harbor, Maine, and middle-of-nowhere Arizona will have you longing for a trip to the country to remind you of what you’ve been missing. But the film is by no means anti-light — it also takes the time to appreciate the beauty that millions of tiny lights can create when seen from afar. Cheney even suggests that in the modern era, it is as if the night sky has been flipped over onto the Earth’s surface.

This film is beautifully and thoughtfully shot, and features stunning astrophotography and time-lapse videos of glimmering urban landscapes. If you missed it at Rooftop this summer, don’t miss out again! Head to the IFC Center January 18-24. Director Ian Cheney and special guest Ann Druyan will be there for the opening night!
Click here for more info on The City Dark, and to view the trailer. Tickets are available online or at the IFC Center Box Office: 323 6th Ave at W 3rd St.

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One Response to “The City Dark Brightens Screens at IFC this Jan”

  1. Patricia says:

    Cheney´s film is a stunning piece of film mastery. I like the way he combined two of his big loves – film making and astronomy. I was charmed by the way he pushes forward psychological question of “self” and makes original conclusions, like the one about ego and cosmos. He claims we are not entire universe and I cannot but agree. I was pleased to find out The City Dark is described as one of the top environmental movies of 2011. I think there is a lot the movie has to say for each of us.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.


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