2019 FiRe Featured Film: Sea of Shadows

A looming disaster in one of the most spectacular environments on Earth sparks a rescue mission unlike any other in SEA OF SHADOWS, a riveting new documentary with the intensity of a Hollywood thriller from National Geographic Documentary Films and winner of the Sundance audience award. When Mexican drug cartels and Chinese traffickers join forces to poach the rare totoaba fish in the Sea of Cortez, their deadly methods threaten to destroy virtually all marine life in the region, including the most elusive and endangered whale species on Earth, the vaquita porpoise.

SEA OF SHADOWS follows a team of dedicated scientists, high-tech conservationists, investigative journalists and courageous undercover agents as well as the Mexican Navy as they put their lives on the line to save the last remaining vaquitas and bring the vicious international crime syndicate to justice.

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

https://www.hbo.com/documentaries/wont-you-be-my-neighbor

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, from filmmaker Morgan Neville (the Oscar-winning 20 Feet from Stardom) takes an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Fred Rogers. The documentary tells the story of a soft-spoken minister, puppeteer, writer, and producer whose show was beamed daily into homes across America for more than 30 years. In his beloved television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Rogers and his cast of puppets and friends spoke directly to young children about some of life’s weightiest issues in a simple, direct fashion. There hadn’t been anything like Mr. Rogers on television before, and there hasn’t been since.

Fred Rogers’ career represented a sustained attempt to present a coherent, beneficent view of how television could be used as a positive force in society. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? explores his legacy, focusing on his radically kind ideas. While the nation changed around him, Rogers stood firm in his belief about the importance of protecting childhood. This intimate portrait goes beyond zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe and into the heart of a creative genius who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination.

Since its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2018, the film has received three Documentary Critic’s Choice Awards, including Best Documentary, Best Director and Best Editing, as well as the Audience Award at the IFP Gotham Awards. Neville’s film is also nominated for five Cinema Eye Honors, including Best Documentary, the Producers Guild of America award for Best Documentary Motion Picture, and the Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.

Unrest

Unrest

https://www.unrest.film/

Jennifer Brea’s Sundance award-winning documentary, Unrest, is a personal journey from patient to advocate to storyteller. Jennifer is 28 years old, working on her PhD at Harvard and months away from marrying the love of her life, when a mysterious fever leaves her bedridden. When doctors tell her it’s “all in your head,” she picks up her camera as an act of defiance and brings us into a hidden world of millions that medicine abandoned.

In this story of love and loss, newlyweds Jennifer and Omar search for answers as they face unexpected obstacles with great heart. Often confined by her illness to the private space of her bed, Jennifer connects with others around the globe. Like a modern-day Odysseus, she travels by Skype into a forgotten community, crafting intimate portraits of four other families suffering similarly. Jennifer Brea’s wonderfully honest and humane portrayal asks us to rethink the stigma around an illness that affects millions. Unrest is a vulnerable and eloquent personal documentary that is sure to hit closer to home than many could imagine.

What Makes It Bearable [Short]

What Makes It Bearable [Short]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClHj5YB88MQ

What Makes It Bearable “discusses the invisible lives of the homeless in Salt Lake City. More than 60 people a year die homeless on the streets in Utah’s capital, according to the film. An organization called the Inn Between creates a space for the dying and ailing to turn to when they are sick so that they can die in dignity. The space helps connect people to family members and even help some of the patients recover from whatever illness they have.” – The Daily Utah Chronicle
A University of Utah “Humanities in Focus” Film

Humanities in Focus is a yearlong course at the University of Utah that connects undergraduate honors students with community members from marginalized populations to produce groundbreaking documentary films. Led by Jeff Metcalf and Craig Wirth, the program builds community, fosters a commitment to social justice, and allows all involved to develop confidence and a range of skills.

The College of Humanities provides this opportunity at no cost to its highly qualified and capable participants, which means it relies on the generosity of individuals and foundations to make this program possible.

Support the Humanities in Focus program

https://umarket.utah.edu/ugive/index.php?gift_id=71&special=Humanities%20in%20Focus%20HU16838-40165

The Voices of Film

The Voices of Film

https://youtu.be/OxAgI-UMpcQ

In the Humanities in Focus documentary about the class, Voices of Film participant and documentarian Nadia Rivera explains: “We get together, we eat together, we talk to each other about our documentaries, and most of our documentaries have to do with our personal lives so we get to share our personal stories and we become kind of like a family.” Jeff Metcalf, Craig Wirth, and participants reflect on the impact of Humanities in Focus.

A University of Utah “Humanities in Focus” Film

Humanities in Focus is a yearlong course at the University of Utah that connects undergraduate honors students with community members from marginalized populations to produce groundbreaking documentary films. Led by Jeff Metcalf and Craig Wirth, the program builds community, fosters a commitment to social justice, and allows all involved to develop confidence and a range of skills.

The College of Humanities provides this opportunity at no cost to its highly qualified and capable participants, which means it relies on the generosity of individuals and foundations to make this program possible.

Support the Humanities in Focus program

https://umarket.utah.edu/ugive/index.php?gift_id=71&special=Humanities%20in%20Focus%20HU16838-40165

Diego’s Dream [Short]

Diego’s Dream [Short]

https://youtu.be/vt2fLh5yAlI

Diego’s Dream is an award-winning Humanities in Focus documentary directed by Peter C. Davidson. The film tells the story of Diego, a young man who immigrated to the United States from Mexico as a child.

A University of Utah “Humanities in Focus” Film

Humanities in Focus is a yearlong course at the University of Utah that connects undergraduate honors students with community members from marginalized populations to produce groundbreaking documentary films. Led by Jeff Metcalf and Craig Wirth, the program builds community, fosters a commitment to social justice, and allows all involved to develop confidence and a range of skills.

The College of Humanities provides this opportunity at no cost to its highly qualified and capable participants, which means it relies on the generosity of individuals and foundations to make this program possible.

Support the Humanities in Focus program
https://umarket.utah.edu/ugive/index.php?gift_id=71&special=Humanities%20in%20Focus%20HU16838-40165

Toxic Puzzle: Hunt for the Hidden Killer

Toxic Puzzle: Hunt for the Hidden Killer

https://www.toxicpuzzle.com/

Dying from diseases like ALS and Alzheimer’s is a tormenting process. The illnesses are on the increase, and scientists believe that environmental toxins can trigger the disease in a gene / environment interaction. Toxic Puzzle is a medical and environmental detective story in which documentary filmmaker Bo Landin follows ethnobotanist Dr. Paul Alan Cox and his scientific team around the world in a hunt for the hidden killer. The pieces come together in a toxic puzzle where cyanobacteria in our waters become the culprit. Are these organisms, fed by human pollution and climate change, staging nature’s revenge by claiming human lives?

In the film, which was four years in the making, filmmaker Bo Landin was granted unique access to follow Paul Cox and over 50 collaborating scientists from around the world. On their quest to learn more about toxic substances produced by cyanobacteria, they make an extraordinary discovery of a link between cyanobacteria and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s illnesses. Is it possible that this link may also provide clues to a cure?

Toxic Puzzle: Hunt for the Hidden Killer is filmed in the USA, Sweden, the Baltic Sea, France, Qatar, Guam, Japan, and Australia, and presents a problem applicable to many more countries worldwide.

Narrated by Harrison Ford.

The Russian Woodpecker

The Russian Woodpecker

http://www.russianwoodpecker.com/

The Russian Woodpecker is a thrilling, award-winning investigation into the ghosts of the Soviet Union and the mind of an irradiated Ukrainian artist on a quest to discover the “criminal” behind the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Unforgettably eccentric artist Fedor Alexandrovich begins his quest by revealing to the world an enormous secret Soviet weapon that stands in the shadow of Chernobyl, and which Kremlinologists in the 1980s thought might be a giant mind-control device.

But what Fedor discovers is much more sinister. While his theory that Chernobyl was an inside job may seem mad, the audience too starts to question reality when secret police appear and one of the crew members is shot by a sniper, as revolution, paranoia, and terror engulf the crew.

This Sundance Grand Jury winner and darling of critics worldwide pushes the boundaries of the documentary form while telling a crucial story about the deadly dance between Ukraine and Russia, and hinting at what Putin has in mind next. In Gracia’s documentary / conspiracy thriller, Alexandrovich returns to the ghost towns in the radioactive Exclusion Zone to try to find answers – and to decide whether to risk his life by revealing them, amid growing clouds of Ukraine’s emerging revolution and war.

The Ripple Effect [Short]

The Ripple Effect [Short]

https://humanities-focus.utah.edu/

The Ripple Effect is a short documentary about Carolyn Tuft, a survivor of the 2007 Trolley Square shooting in Salt Lake City, Utah. The film examines the long-lasting effects of gun violence.

Ten years ago, Carolyn took her 13-year-old daughter out to buy valentines cards. A young man, armed with several weapons, began systematically to open fire on shoppers. No reason.

Carolyn was shot at close range with a sawed-off shotgun several times, and her daughter died in her arms. Carolyn survived and still lives with over 200 lead shotgun pellets in her torso.
Along with her older daughter, Kait, mother and daughter have lobbied effortlessly on behalf of reasonable gun control. Carolyn still suffers the pain, and she was bankrupted by medical and pharmaceutical bills. It has not been an easy life for her and her family.

A University of Utah “Humanities in Focus” Film

Humanities in Focus is a yearlong course at the University of Utah that connects undergraduate honors students with community members from marginalized populations to produce groundbreaking documentary films. Led by Jeff Metcalf and Craig Wirth, the program builds community, fosters a commitment to social justice, and allows all involved to develop confidence and a range of skills.

The College of Humanities provides this opportunity at no cost to its highly qualified and capable participants, which means it relies on the generosity of individuals and foundations to make this program possible.

Support the Humanities in Focus program

https://umarket.utah.edu/ugive/index.php?gift_id=71&special=Humanities%20in%20Focus%20HU16838-40165

The Perfect Donor [Work-in-progress]

The Perfect Donor [Work-in-progress]

http://theperfectdonor.com

The Perfect Donor examines the unregulated market for human eggs. With the growing demand for young healthy women to provide eggs for pay, few have stopped to ask: Is egg donation safe?

The stories of eight egg donors are told against the backdrop of the infertility industry. While some women experience joy helping people become parents, others discover that the thousands of dollars they were paid for their eggs comes at a greater cost – to their own health, well-being, and future fertility.