On one end of the cinema spectrum there are comic book characters, superheroes, spirits, zombies and vampires. That’s the fantasy world many people choose to escape to when they sit in front of the big screen in a movie theatre.
But look toward the other end of the spectrum, where important documentaries live, stories and passion projects that don’t make mega-millions at the box office ‚Äî some don’t even make it to a box office ‚Äî but do the essential work of reminding us about the realities of life on earth. And done right, they can have lasting impact.
I call your attention to two significant new films, “The Breach” and “Seeds of Time.” And today’s the last day to see the re-released “Grey Gardens” by The Maysles Brothers, masters of the medium that set the standard for cin√©ma v√©rit√© (or as they called it, Direct Cinema).
A new 2K restoration made by the Criterion Collection, in collaboration with the Academy Film Archive at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, brings Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie (Big and Little Edie) into new focus. The mother and daughter high-society dropouts were the eccentric and reclusive cousins of Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
They managed to thrive amid the decay and disorder of their East Hampton mansion, making for an eerily ramshackle echo of the American Camelot that the Kennedys represented in the White House. An impossibly intimate portrait, this 1976 documentary quickly became a cult classic and established Little Edie as a fashion icon and philosopher queen.
After David Maysles died in 1987, Maysles Films, headed by Albert until his death in March 2015, continued to put out movies and inspire future generations of filmmakers; its endeavors include not only its production company but also the nonprofit Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem, New York.
There are just three more “Grey Gardens” screenings, tonight at 5, 7:30 and 9:50 p.m. at The Nuart. Visit www.landmarktheatres.com/los-angeles/nuart-theatre for more information.
“The Breach” will not be commercially released, but an exclusive screening and reception co-sponsored by Slow Food Los Angeles takes place at Cross Campus, 929 Colorado Ave., in Santa Monica on Wednesday, May 20 at 7 p.m.
The film follows fishing guide/filmmaker Mark Titus who embarks on a journey to discover why wild salmon populations plummeted in his native Pacific Northwest, and what might bring them back. Along the way, Titus unravels a trail of human hubris, historical amnesia and potential tragedy looming in Bristol Bay, Alaska – all conspiring to end the most vital wild food left on the planet.
Weaving together captivating interviews, original artwork, archival photos and underwater footage, Titus spins a compelling story about wild salmon, our food choices and the impact we have on our precious waters. “The Breach” features fishermen, tribal leaders, scientists, artists, authors and chefs – all with a shared knowledge and passion for wild salmon as cultural treasure and nourishing food source.
In addition to a post-screening Wild Alaskan Salmon tasting, there’ll be a panel discussion with director Mark Titus, Alannah Hurley of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Nick Fash of our own Heal the Bay, Joel Reynolds of NRDC and seafood restaurateur Michael Cimarusti of Providence and Connie & Ted’s. For tickets ($20), click on https://thebreachsantamonica.eventbrite.com.
“Seeds of Time,” opening at Laemmle’s Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills on May 29, focuses its lens on crop diversity pioneer Cary Fowler of The Global Crop Diversity Trust in Rome. For more than 30 years, Fowler has led a distinguished career in conservation and use of crop diversity. “Seeds of Time” is his story.
A perfect storm is brewing as Fowler races against time to protect the future of our food. Seed banks around the world are crumbling, crop failures are producing starvation and rioting, and the accelerating effects of climate change are affecting farmers globally. Communities of indigenous Peruvian farmers are already suffering those effects, as they try desperately to save over 1,500 varieties of native potato in their fields. But with little time to waste, both Fowler and the farmers embark on passionate and personal journeys that may save the one resource we cannot live without: our seeds.
With a passion few possess, Fowler sets out to build the world’s first global seed vault – Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a collection on a scale larger than any other. How can we best maintain the diversity that still exists for our food crops? How do we create new diversity to adapt our fields to a changing climate? The answers are as complex as the system they intend to fix. And it will require a combination of efforts: from scientists, plant breeders, researchers, farmers, politicians, and even gardeners.
Find out more at http://www.seedsoftimemovie.com; get tickets at https://www.laemmle.com. Become part of the local seed saving movement by joining the Seed Library of Los Angeles (www.SLOLA.org) based at The Learning Garden at Venice High School.
And speaking of sustainability: there would be no food without bees.
Join local non-profit organization, HoneyLove (www.honeylove.org) for its 2015 Yellow Tie fundraiser. Wear yellow, pose for Yellow Carpet photos, and enjoy great food, fun drinks, local honey tasting and music by the Leftover Cuties, in support of HoneyLove’s mission to protect honeybees and inspire and educate new urban beekeepers! Go online¬†to find your ticket.
It takes place on May 17 from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Cook’s Garden by HGEL at 1033 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. Children dressed as bees get in for free. Your ticket is here: www.YTE2015.eventbrite.com.
Sarah A. Spitz spent her career as a producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica and produced freelance arts reports for NPR. She has also reviewed theatre for LAOpeningNights.com.