The classic monster film gets a deliciously sadistic twist in Vincenzo Natali's contemporary dissection of the genetic-engineering dilemma. Clive and Elsa are young, brilliant, and ambitious. The new animal species they engineered has made them rebel superstars of the scientific world. In secret, they introduce human DNA into the experiment. The result is something that is greater than the sum of its parts: a female animal/human hybrid that may be a step up on the evolutionary ladder. They think they may have created the perfect organism—until she makes a final, shocking metamorphosis that could destroy them—and the rest of humanity.
In an age where creating life is a near-scientific possibility, the terrifying premise of Splice takes on hauntingly powerful implications. Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody deliver nuanced performances, and Natali's lurid special effects and dazzling visual design create a modern-day horror film that will make you scream, squirm, and think.
2. Climate Refugees
If global warming is our planet’s most pressing issue, large-scale population displacement is the human consequence. Massive continental migration is already under way, and diminished natural resources continue to threaten the lives of millions. The quickly submerging islands of Tuvalu in the South Pacific, drought-affected regions of Sudan, storm-susceptible coastlines of Bangladesh, and rapidly expanding deserts in China are forcing millions to relocate beyond their borders. Who will accept these refugees, and how will they impact their adopted homeland?
Filmmaker Michael Nash spent two years traversing the globe, visiting these and other hot spots where rising sea levels are threatening millions of people’s survival. Strong visuals and potent testimony from the victims of climate change, politicians, scientists, relief organizations, and authors help sound the alarm for instituting new policies and working together to create solutions to cope with this imminent crisis. Climate Refugees fervently captures the human fallout of climate change.
3. Space Tourists
Anousheh Ansari has dreamt of going into outer space since she was a child. A number of years and $20 million later, with the help of the Russian space program, her dream is realized—Ansari becomes the first female space tourist. In recent years, a number of private citizens like Ansari have been willing to endure rigorous training in Star City, Kazakhstan, and part with significant funds to spend time aboard the International Space Station.
Director Christian Frei (The Giant Buddhas, Sundance Film Festival 2006) explores the impact of space tourism in the heavens and on Earth by adeptly weaving together multiple strands: Ansari’s joyous experience in orbit; the efforts of local villagers to claim black-market rocket debris; the observations of photographer Jonas Bendiksen; and the training of the next space tourist in line. Space Tourists examines the intersections of human enterprise and commerce in the final frontier.
4. Cane Toads: The Conquest
The cane toads are ba-a-a-ck! But this time those pesky varmints are coming at you in glorious 3-D. In 1988, filmmaker Mark Lewis had tongues wagging when he unleashed his celebrated documentary Cane Toads: An Unnatural History, exposing a bizarre biological blunder. Here, Lewis takes a giant leap forward as he revs up the technology, once again tracking the unstoppable march of the cane toad across the Australian continent. Reviled by many, adored by a few, the toad has gripped Australia's consciousness, achieving both cult and criminal status. Imported to save the sugar cane crop, the toad’s spread is considered one of Australia’s greatest environmental catastrophes. Yet for a world awakening to the daunting prospect that we have forever altered our ecosystem, this is a story of global implication. With its tongue not so firmly in its cheek, Cane Toads: The Conquest is a comic, yet provocative, journey of a species that has already invaded planet Earth.
5. And one final piece of film news that's not Sundance related...Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Spacey
Leonardo DiCaprio will narrate Hubble 3-D, a new Imax film set to be released in theaters on March 19th. According to Variety, the film includes spacewalks by astronauts required to service the telescope. The project brings back the Space Station 3D filmmaking team, led by producer/director Toni Myers; James Neihouse is director of photography and the astronaut crew trainer.