January 2, 2006
The White Diamond
A Documentary Gem from Werner Herzog
(North Adams, Mass.) A white helium-filled balloon, shaped like a teardrop, floats above the lush Amazon canopy in the heart of Guyana. Who better than Werner Herzog to accompany eccentric aeronautics expert Dr. Graham Dorrington on his quest to retrace an ill-fated expedition from more than a decade ago? Together, Herzog and Dorrington go where few have dared and capture it all on film. On Thursday, February 2 at 8 PM, The White Diamond will be screened at MASS MoCA's Club B-10 as part of the riveting film series, Extreme Documentary: Alternitive Vérité.
In 1992, pioneering nature documentary filmmaker Dieter Plage tragically fell to his death from the prototype airship created by his friend, British scientist Dr. Graham Dorrington, while attempting to film wildlife in the canopy of the Amazon. Twelve years later, the likable but mistake-prone Dorrington returns to the Amazon with Werner Herzog to make a second attempt and pay homage to Plage by tackling the elusive, mysterious and breathtaking canopy of Guyana.
Herzog is no stranger to the South American Amazon, having filmed both Fitzcarraldo (1982) and Aguirre, Wrath of God (1977) in the lush environs. Herzog's oeuvre is marked by films that document risk-taking individuals pushing themselves to extremes in a struggle with nature, evident in the recent Grizzly Man (2005). The footage filmed from the gondola, located underneath the balloon, includes rarely-seen views of the impressive Kaieteur Falls, which boasts the world's longest single-drop waterfall, a sheer 750 foot plunge.
Dr. Dorrington, a lecturer in aerospace design at Queen Mary University of London, currently focuses his research on developing airships (or dirigibles) to unobtrusively explore wilderness areas and tropical rain forests - in particular the canopy, one of most diverse biomes on Earth. Dorrington's dirigible, which resembles a smaller version of the hydrogen-filled Zeppelins of the early 20th century, earned its nickname from a native Rastafarian accompanying the cast and crew of the film, who poetically stated that the airship looks like a "big white diamond floating around in the sunrise."
According to Roger Ebert, "The White Diamond … earns its place among the other treasures and curiosities in Herzog's work. Here is one of the most inquisitive filmmakers alive, a man who will go to incredible lengths to film people living at the extremes". The White Diamond is moving, funny, at times revelatory, and is ultimately as uplifting as a balloon ride over the Amazon.
MASS MoCA partners with Williams College's Oakley Center on the films presented in the Cinema Lounge this season. The season, which includes the screening of The White Diamond, leads up to a major conference titled Extreme Documentary: Alternative Vérité on April 9, 2006. The conference, held at Williams and MASS MoCA, will bring together leading practitioners and critics for two days of screenings and panel discussions. Invited participants include: Werner Herzog, Frederick Wiseman, Jonathan Caouette, Mieke Bal, Faye Ginsburg, Walid Raad, Kevin MacDonald, and the Yes Men.
Doors open for The White Diamond at 7 PM, with food and drink from Lickety Split available before and during the screening. Club B-10 features comfortable couches and café tables as well as a full bar.
Tickets for The White Diamond are $6. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available in advance through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Katherine Myers
(413) 664-4481 x8113
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