Hot Docs 2014: Focus On Infinity (Joerg Burger)

2014_hotdocs_stock_imageScreening this evening at 7pm, with its international premiere at the Hart House Theatre is this documentary posits the eternal queries of who are we, where did we come from and where are we going? It doesn’t provide any answers, it’s more akin to laying on a blanket in the middle of summer and watch the stars pinwheel slowly above you. It’s meant to make you think and wonder.

Turning its cameras Earthward instead of in the skies above, the film mixes touches of the spiritual and the scientific, and even the camera itself is set to infinite, as it shows international vistas, some desolate, some dotted with run down towns and villages like in South America and the American southwest.

As the film visits VLAs (Very Large Arrays), VLTs (Very Large Telescopes), and even the Vatican’s VLB (Very Large Binoculars) the film asks existential questions mixing them heartily and easily with faith and science, showing that the two aren’t necessarily separate.

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The film talks of faith, hope, and discovery, constantly intercutting with the desolate locations that seem to be the home of these scientific endeavors (to better view the infinite of the night sky).  We are shown gentle, beautiful and stark lovely landscapes, dotted with our sky-searching technology, and the pockmarks of the cosmos on the skin of our fragile home,

The amazing things about the landscapes we are shown, with the camera’s focus set to infinity, is that despite the fact that they look empty, but no less stunning, there is a huge amount of life there, flowers, scrub brush, insects, animals, there is life everywhere… so when we look to the heavens… why not there as well?

An introspective piece that stuns with its visual imagery of our fragile planet, this one may not be for everyone, but I found it engrossing, and found myself longing to visit the locations of the film and have a gander up at the stars through some of those telescopes, and listen to the sounds of the universe on a set of headphones with the arrays slowly, carefully, examine the heavens.

A range of theories are presented, as astronomers, physicists, and writers delve into the essence of humanity and existence. There is conjecture, hypothesis, and simple wonder about life and the universe…

This one screens again May 1st at 10:30 at the Isabel Bader, May 2nd at 1:00 at the Lightbox, and screens on the 4th at 7pm back at the Hart House.

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