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I don't typically see many documentaries every year, but since becoming a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Bfca) it has become far easier (and necessary) to see more of them over the last two years. One, I have to nominate and vote on the category for the Critics' Choice Awards and two, I get more screeners each year than I used to. This year I've watched 14 documentaries and have yet only seen seven of the 15 documentaries up for Best Documentary at the 2013 Oscars. Of those seven, only one makes my top five of 2012. Outside of the five I list below, virtually all of the documentaries I watched this year were quite great, but seeing how I only saw 14, it didn't make sense to do a top ten. So if you're looking for some additional docs to watch other than my top five, also consider Bad 25 (which would »
- Brad Brevet
Jeff Orlowski's first-rate documentary begins with complacently smug anti-global-warming clips from Fox News and from the owner of America's weather channel. It then introduces the persuasive environmentalist James Balog, a celebrated photographer working for National Geographic, who became fascinated with what glaciers can teach us about our changing planet. In 2007 he set up the Extreme Ice Survey (Eis), a well-funded project to monitor glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, Montana, the Alps, Canada and Bolivia, and the results – photographed using state-of-the-art time-lapse cameras – are sensational in their beauty, terror and the irrefutable evidence they provide of the rapidity with which age-old ice packs are melting away. It's like watching our world disappear.
DocumentaryGlaciersClimate changeFox NewsPhilip French
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- Philip French
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey | Smashed | Neil Young Journeys | Chasing Ice | Love Crime | Dead Europe | UFO | False Trail | Code Name: Geronimo | Tinkerbell And The Secret Of The Wings | Babette's Feast | Baraka | What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?
So the three-movie idea is more likely down to financial demands than creative ones, and the now-notorious higher frame rate reduces cinematic spectacle to pin-sharp TV movie, but this is terrifically wrought escapism. Freeman is the perfect lead, too. But what could have, should have been a masterpiece ends up a fantasy epic with too much epic and not enough fantasy.
Winstead shows impressive range as a young alcoholic teacher trying to get back on track. The familiar subject feels fresh applied to a new demographic. »
- Steve Rose
With both Skyfall and Twilight experiencing fairly hefty drop-offs for the second week running, 37 and 55% respectively, Rise of the Guardians sneaked past both with a solid second week to claim top spot with takings of around £1.6million at the UK Box Office this past weekend.
Dreamworks’ animated film will be benefitting not only from the lack of festive feel-good competition, but also the fact that school are starting to break up and more and more families will start going to see it as a result. Likewise Nativity 2, the only other major Christmas family film out in cinemas this month, had another strong week and remains in fifth spot in defiance of the legions of bad reviews it has received.
Seven Psychopaths had a pretty decent opening, going straight into third spot at the Box Office after taking in around £1.2million over the past weekend. A fair chunk of that number »
- Rob Keeling
This climate-change documentary's approach is conventional, but the extraordinary images of crumbling icesheets speak volumes
Jeff Orlowski's documentary begins as a straightforward biographical profile, before shifting up into something more urgent, impassioned and compelling. Its subject, James Balog, is a photographer who goes to extremes to prove the existence of global warming: his latest expedition involves descending Arctic cliff faces to fit time-lapse cameras with which to monitor glacial erosion. Orlowski's framing – interspersing field footage with talking heads – is somewhat conventional, but the images he and Balog have collated are consistently breathtaking, and accumulate real power. The cameras look on in vain as massive icesheets shear off, leaving once-mighty glaciers – characterised in the manner of the endangered species in Attenborough documentaries – to slump into the sea. Behind them, they leave nothing – save colossal insurance premiums for those areas subsequently flooded by displaced waters.
If any film can convert the climate-change sceptics, »
- Mike McCahill
Could this be it? Could this be the thing that finally makes the doubters wake up and smell the global warming? I think it could be... but only if everyone sees Chasing Ice. Hear that? Everyone must see this movie. Even those who do not doubt. The film isn’t anything like “devastating proof” that the planet is warming -- we already have that, in piles and piles of scientific evidence. What we haven’t quite had is the devastating illustration of a reality that moves on scales our human-sized perception typically cannot see. Enter photographer James Balog, whose aim has been to make nature “seductive,” whose work has been celebrated by National Geographic and likened by experts to that of Ansel Adams. He set up the Extreme Ice Survey, invented new equipment for time-lapse photography in extreme environments, and set about documenting the retreat of glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, »
- MaryAnn Johanson
★★★★☆ Capping off a standout year for appealing, thought-provoking documentaries, Jeff Orlowski's Sundance Film Festival hit Chasing Ice (2012) is arguably the pick of the bunch - visually at least. Following the pioneering exploits of photographer turned climate change activist James Balog (now on his fourth knee operation due to his penchant for hiking in sub-zero temperature), Orlowski thankfully doesn't feel the need to ram the issue of global warming down his viewers' throats. Instead, the director seems to share the same belief as his likeable main subject; that certain stories are best told through images.
Read more » »
- CineVue UK
We wanted to pass on the excellent news that among the 15 titles that will advance in the voting process for the category of Best Documentary Feature, two of Dogwoof‘s own, The House I Live In and Chasing Ice, have been chosen in the shortlist by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The team at Dogwoof had this to say:
We’re very proud to have The House I Live In and Chasing Ice mentioned among so many other fantastic documentaries from the past year. The inclusion of these Dogwoof films is a testament to the power and persuasion of both films as they consider the world around us and push audiences towards making a change.
First up is Chasing Ice, that’s coming to cinemas December 14th.
Acclaimed photographer James Balog was once a skeptic about climate change. But through his Extreme Ice Survey, he discovers undeniable evidence of our changing planet. »
- Dan Bullock
The Documentary Branch screened 126 films and will now watch the 15 contenders listed below again to determine the final five which will be revealed on Jan. 10, along with the rest of the Oscar nominations. -Insertgroups:8- In alphabetical order: "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" Directed by Alison Klayman. Synopsis - Chronicling artist and activist Ai Weiwei as he prepares for a series of exhibitions and gets into an increasing number of clashes with the Chinese government. "Bully" Directed by Lee Hirsch. Synopsis - A documentary on peer-to-peer bullying in schools across America. "Chasing Ice" Directed by Jeff Orlowski. Synopsis - Follow National Geographic photographer James Balog across the Arctic as he deploys time-lapse cameras designed for one purpose: to capture a multi-year record of the world's changing glaciers. "Detropia" Directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Synopsis - A documentar »
James Balog used to be something of a sceptic about global warming... until he saw for himself.
Now the celebrated photographer has made it his mission to record, beyond any doubt, the effects of warming on our planet, particularly the beautiful, bleak Arctic region we seldom get to see.
James Balog doesn't want to say there was nothing he didn't do...
To set up the Extreme Ice Survey, Balog and his team put 34 cameras across 16 glaciers, and left them in place to record, beyond all personal opinion and doubt, the changing landscape. This involved personal treks across glaciers, frozen ravines but, according to Balog, this wasn't the hard stuff...
"The financial stress is actually the biggest challenge. It's always been unrelenting, too close to the wolf," is how Balog explains it in rain-swept London. "The physical challenges - the weather, the logistics, the glaciers - would be challenging, but that's my happy zone. »
- The Huffington Post UK
The Earth is dying. Not in a metaphorical way and not dying over a geologic timescale of billions of years. But dying in a very real and observable way. Chasing Ice from director Jeff Orlowski offers striking evidence of a dying Earth in footage of events that have rarely ever been seen, much less recorded. Orlowski’s documentary profiles famed environmental photographer James Balog who, together with a small and dedicated team, has sought to capture on film the retreat of Earth’s glaciers using an army of time-lapse cameras positioned across the globe—from Alaska and Glacier National Park in Montana to »
Chasing Ice, a new documentary by Jeff Orlowski, follows award-winning environmental photographer James Balog on his journey to capture rapidly-eroding glaciers in the Arctic. Balog was once a skeptic about climate change and a cynic about the nature of academic research. But through his Extreme Ice Survey, he discovers undeniable evidence of our changing planet. In the film, Balog deploys revolutionary time-lapse cameras to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers. His hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate. Chasing Ice premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it won for Excellence in Cinematography, and was recently awarded the 2012 Environmental Media Award for Best Documentary. At the film’s press day, Balog and Orlowski talked about how their pioneering film makes global warming visual and emotional in a way that has never happened before. »
- Sheila Roberts
Practically everyone on the planet has their own opinions about global warming, one of the most polarizing topics in the 21st Century. World-renowned photographer James Balog and director Jeff Orlowski sought out to prove the drastic changes in our global climate by chronicling the eroding glaciers in the fascinating documentary Chasing Ice, currently playing in limited release and expanding to Los Angeles and Denver theaters November 23 (clickHere to find showtimes in your area).
Through the Extreme Ice Survey, they set up a number of still cameras in arctic climates around the world, set to take still photographs every hour over a few years. Using time-lapse technology, these years are compressed into mere seconds, and you can see the proof of our rapidly-changing climate before your very eyes in this stunning documentary. »
Just in time for Thanksgiving tables where politics reluctantly come up, the Chasing Ice trailer provides some excellent visual proof for those in the world that still doubt that the world is getting warmer. Whether or not you can convince them that humans are at fault is another issue, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could at least agree that science is a better starting point than “how Uncle Melbert’s knee feels when it’s about to rain”? Sorry, Uncle Melbert, but you might want to check this out. This documentary is a life-and-camera-endangering exercise that follows nature photographer James Balog complete the arduous task of placing time-lapse equipment in some of the harshest environmental conditions on the planet. His goal? Capturing footage of melting glaciers. The resulting shots are nothing short of awe-inspiring. There is a massive raw power in these mammoths disappearing from the landscape, and »
- Cole Abaius
After years of shooting in extreme conditions, National Geographic photographer James Balog finally realized he could no longer ignore the slow disappearance of frozen landscapes he’d come to know and love. In Chasing Ice, director and cinematographer Jeff Orlowski documents Balog’s ambitious plan to install 25 separate time-lapse cameras across the globe in order to record receding glaciers and shifting ice, dire omens of a changing climate with no audience to bear witness. All the while Orlowski follows directly behind, shooting in dog sleds and ice crevasses, capturing the troubles that beset the most impassioned plans and what one man is willing to risk for the perfect shot. Filmmaker spoke to Orlowski about the unique challenges of making the film.
Filmmaker: Balog’s documentation of receding glaciers across the globe is a multi-year endeavor in the film. What was the timeline of following his mission, and the making of Chasing Ice? »
- Martha Early
To crassly understate it, the weather on the Eastern Seaboard has been a bit unpleasant. Hurricane Sandy was a disaster the likes of which public transit in New York City has never seen, and the crises of electricity and gas all over the region may continue well into November. Always ready to lighten the mood and lift our spirits, The Onion ran the following story: “Nation Suddenly Realizes This Just Going to Be a Thing That Happens from Now On.” As if responding to the challenge, a Nor’easter promptly hit on the night of November 7th. The satirical newspaper’s droll acceptance of climate change, however, isn’t yet shared by everyone. Enter Chasing Ice, the most recent in a wave of documentaries dead set on changing the national perception of the weather. It’s an uphill battle. This most recent cycle of presidential debates was the first since 1988 without a single mention of climate change »
- Daniel Walber
Warming Up to the Idea; Visually Recorded Hard Facts Closes the Climate Change Case for Good
The name James Balog should be quite familiar if you’re an avid reader of National Geographic. The highly regarded photographer has been a leading pictorial contributor for the monthly for years, and his cover story on melting glaciers became the best selling issue in recent memory. Against the elements, director Jeff Orlowski has documented the development and execution of Balog’s Extreme Ice Survey (Eis), a grandiose time lapse photography project that was set up across multiple continents in hopes of finding hard visual evidence of the impact of global warming on the accelerated melting of Earth’s largest glacial formations.
Despite thorough scientific research, global warming is still very much a bilateral debate because of the few remaining lobbyists. Skeptics refuse to see the facts through the data. Knowing this is true, »
- Jordan M. Smith
"Use your voice." Standing before the audience at the New York City premiere of "Chasing Ice" in October, photographer James Balog offered this encouragement to individuals wondering what they can do in the face of global climate change.
"Chasing Ice" follows the work of Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey project, a long-term photographic study of the impact of climate change on the world's glaciers. It focuses on the expeditions of the Eis team to install solar-powered cameras overlooking glaciers in some of the most remote regions. Time-lapse images from these cameras show the glaciers retreating at a stunning rate.
Both Balog and director-cinematographer Jeff Orlowski said they went into the project not knowing if the cameras would capture such remarkable change. Orlowski told The Huffington Post that he believed Balog and his team were undertaking an interesting project and found their mission "compelling" from the outset. But only after »
- James Gerken
What Wednesday night’s engaging, high-profile New York screening of “Chasing Ice” needed was more conflict. Yes, Jeff Orlowski’s debut documentary will have plenty of competition throughout awards season, especially as it battles its way toward the Oscar podium. But I mean real argument, debate, confrontation. Because a breathtaking feature-length display of the effects of global warming is ultimately designed to change minds, and the one thing you can be pretty sure is going to be in short supply at a high-profile New York City awards-season screening is climate-change deniers. So, as impressive as that insanely moving footage was to capture, the real challenge for the "Chasing Ice” filmmakers— Orlowski and his producers, National Geographic, Submarine Deluxe and the film’s main subject, photographer James Balog — is to get Fox fixture Sean Hannity, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, the billionaire Koch Bros., and »
- Jay A. Fernandez
"I never imagined that you could see glaciers this big, disappearing in such a short time. There's a powerful piece of history that's unfolding in these pictures," National Geographic photographer James Balog describes in the new "Chasing Ice" trailer.
"Chasing Ice" follows Balog's journey as he works to capture the fast-vanishing Arctic glaciers. Armed with 30 time-lapse cameras on three continents, Balog and his team compress years of video footage into seconds to reveal the disappearance of mountains of ice.
As director and founder of the Extreme Ice Survey (Eis), Balog's long-term photographic study of glaciers examines the effects of global climate change on landscapes. Through his work, he has witnessed the changing planet firsthand.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center recently reported that the extent of Arctic sea ice melted to record lows the summer. Data center scientist Ted Scambos told the Associated Press that global warming from man-made »
- Joanna Zelman
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