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By Nora Ankrum, March 18, 2011, Screens

The City Dark

Documentary Feature Competition
D: Ian Cheney

An impressive documentarian, Cheney blends – as he did with 2007's King Corn – an unassuming disposition and just a bit of personal narrative with a story that is otherwise much larger than any one person and, in this case, as large as the universe. Living in New York City, where light pollution creates a hazy glow behind which the real sky hides, he misses the unfettered view of the stars he had growing up in rural Maine. Cheney takes a philosophical approach to this loss – almost to a fault – front-loading interviews with astronomers and others journeying ever farther from cities to get a look at the true night sky. But no amount of lovely nighttime footage of the desert sky or Times Square can soften the blow of learning that cities lure hatchling turtles and migrating birds – dependent on the stars for navigation – to their deaths. People aren't faring so well without the dark, either, and you don't even want to know how light pollution may be hiding killer asteroids. Actually, maybe you do. If so, Cheney makes the scary news as palatable as possible.

Friday, March 18, 4:30pm, Alamo Lamar C

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