Over a century ago, the Ethiopian highlands were covered with trees. Now, that forest is little more than a memory, and what remains is preserved in small pockets of greenery surrounding Ethiopian Orthodox churches.
Jeremy Seifert’s new New York Times Op-Doc, “The Church Forests of Ethiopia” takes us inside one of these leafy enclaves, which have become important preserves of biodiversity.
Seifert’s film introduces viewers to Dr. Alemayehu Wassie Eshete, who works with priests and the surrounding community to preserve the forests from further environmental destruction.
Often, faith and science are seen as in opposition, but in Ethiopia, they are intersecting to cultivate and protect the environment.
Zeitgeist Films, in association with Kino Lorber, has acquired Allison Reid’s documentary, “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes.”
The film tells the story of Anne Innis Dagg, who in 1956 at the age 23, made an unprecedented solo journey to South Africa to study giraffes in the wild — years before Jane Goodall would set out to study chimpanzees or Dian Fossey would work with mountain gorillas.
“The Woman Who Loves Giraffes” retraces Dagg’s steps with archival 16mm film, along with new footage and interviews, highlighting her legacy as the world’s first giraffologist and shedding light on the devastating realities that giraffes are facing today.
Discovery and BBC Studios have inked a nearly $400 million programming deal that will see high-end natural history programming from BBC Studios play on a new Discovery global streaming service set for launch by 2020.
Under a ten-year agreement, Discovery has acquired a raft of BBC content for its new SVOD service and will work with BBC Studios, the U.K. broadcaster’s production and distribution unit, to develop new programming across natural history, travel, science, and other factual genres.
Discovery CEO and president David Zaslav said the new, as-yet-unnamed service could launch for under $5 a month.
“This is our largest-ever content sales deal,” added BBC boss Tony Hall. “It will mean BBC Studios and Discovery will work together to take our content right across the globe through a new world-beating streaming service. Global subscribers are in for a real treat: the best content on a great new platform.”
Among the many wonders in Netflix’s new wildlife documentary series “Our Planet,” arguably the most awe-inspiring is a scene where almost no animals appear at all.
In this clip from the series, which premieres April 5 on the streaming giant, cameras catch the moment when a chunk of ice the size of a skyscraper breaks off the Store Glacier in Greenland and tumbles into the ocean.
As seabirds circle in the foreground, 75 million tons of crystalline ice cascade into the water below.
“Glaciers have always released ice into the ocean,” says narrator David Attenborough. “But now this is happening nearly twice as fast as it did ten years ago.”
In 2019, Costco will open a chicken farming operation in eastern Nebraska. This venture will provide Costco with 40% of its yearly chicken needs, allowing it to partially escape the American chicken oligopoly run by the likes of Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Perdue.
One of Costco’s iconic products is the rotisserie chicken. The retailer sells about 60 million of them every year, but they’re a loss leader. Costco sells these chickens at a loss sometimes up to $30 to $40 million dollars per year.
The chickens are a lure to get customers in the door. They’re placed strategically at the back of every Costco so customers might pick up other items along the way. That’s why Costco wants to keep the price so low.
The trouble is that chicken prices have crept up over the past 10 years, and the industry is practically an oligopoly run by the likes of Tyson and Perdue. Costco, like most American grocers, buys from these behemoth companies because there’s no other option.
But not anymore. In 2016 Costco announced its plans to open a chicken farming operation in eastern Nebraska. It will own the whole supply chain from baby chicks to feed to the final product.
The 11 best documentaries of 2018 according to Vox.
1. Minding the Gap – One of the most extraordinary films of the year, “Minding the Gap” starts out as an engrossing documentary about a group of young people in Rockford, Illinois, as they skateboard and grow up together.
But as the film unfolds, it expands from being a skate movie into something much bigger.
2. Bisbee ’17 – Directed by unconventional documentarian Robert Greene, “Bisbee ’17” is a fierce, lyrical probe into the soul of a town haunted by a history it would rather forget. It’s also an unsettling cipher for America, at a time when the ghosts of our past have revealed themselves in frightening ways.
Greene ventured to Bisbee, Arizona for the centennial of a 1917 incident in which 1,200 striking miners were illegally deported to New Mexico.
By stitching together interviews with locals, quiet shots of the town and the stunning landscape that surrounds it, and footage of Bisbee’s preparations to reenact what happened, the film gently blows the dust of accumulated history of the past and, in the process, exposes some of the town’s still-tender wounds.
3. Amazing Grace – Kept under a bushel for more than four decades while it was held up by both technical issues and lawsuits, it seemed like “Amazing Grace“ — which Sydney Pollack filmed in 1972, as Aretha Franklin recorded the live album of the same name that would become one of her most acclaimed — would never see the light of day. But this year, it was finally finished and released, just months after Franklin’s death.
“Amazing Grace” premiered at the DOC NYC festival in November and will play limited engagements before a theatrical release planned for March 2019.
4. Hale County This Morning, This Evening – As much a poem as a documentary, RaMell Ross’s “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” is the sort of film for which the word “lyrical” was invented.
Ross, who started his career as a large-format photographer, carefully assembled hours of footage he shot while living in Hale County, Alabama — of water droplets on a baby’s skin, of kids goofing off in a parking lot, church congregants singing during mass, of old houses, of insects, and more.
Together, they act as brushstrokes to create a portrait of a community, capturing a way of life in a place burdened by history.
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening” opened in theaters earlier this year and is awaiting digital release.
5. Shirkers – As teenagers in 1992, Sandi Tan and her friends Jasmine and Sophie made Singapore’s first indie movie, a scripted film called “Shirkers” — and then their American mentor absconded with the footage.
The documentary, also called “Shirkers,” is Tan’s personal exploration into what happened with her film, produced decades after George Cardona, the mysterious man who shot the movie with them, then disappeared with the footage in tow.
Using a variety of media — including 16mm, animation, handwritten letters, tapes, digital, Hi8, and Super8 — Tan reconstructs the making of Shirkers and its aftermath, working through the story, sussing out what exactly went down and how it affected the path that she and her friends took in their lives.