Posted on September 03, 2011

Do we need the stars? Ian Cheney, an award winning documentary film maker’s ‘The City Dark,’ finds the answer to this question. The film was  screened at the Education City yesterday.

The City Dark, in a search for a night in a planet which never sleeps, speaks about the disappearance of darkness with stars and its danger of light pollution,   and its maker Ian Cheney received a large number of students and faculty at the different universities within the Education City.

Cheney, who lost his childhood fascination with astronomy after leaving countryside Maine to New York City, try to create awareness about light pollution in urban cities. Talking about Brooklyn to Mauna Kea, Doha, Paris and beyond, the documentary film explores the threat of killer asteroids in Hawaii, tracking hatching turtles along the Florida coast, rescuing injured birds on Chicago streets.

It shows how migrating birds are disoriented by city lights because they usually see stars as a map for them to find their way. The sea turtles too end with the same fate. They find their way in the ocean with reflecting stars and instead of water they go into bright light.

The City Dark, a production of the Wicked Delicate Films also unravels several other factors including increased breast cancer rates from exposure to light at night. It says that women who work night shifts are more prone to cancer, particularly breast and prostate cancer.

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“The balance between the need of light in the night and keeping it environmental friendly is more a design challenge; Simple design strategies could bring a solution,” said Ian Cheney, speaking after the film screening, organised by the Office of Faculty and Students services, Education Division, Qatar Foundation.

The concept of green buildings could be the correct way to find a solution to prevent light pollution, he explained. “The relatively new concept of green building could find the solution for this. Preventing the light blast in the night sky by shading lights is a simple way of doing it,” said Cheney. “We can have a civilisation without making humans ill.” He also suggested that new buildings being built at the Education City should adopt this method of lighting to prevent light pollution. “As the Education City is building green buildings, there is opportunity to start it in the correct way,” Cheney said.

The City Dark, which has seen 15 film festivals in the United States, made a stop in Doha on its way from the Kandy International Film Festival in Sri Lanka to the Abu Dhabi film festival. Since its world premiere at the 2011 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in Austin, The City Dark has been honoured by many great awards.

It won the Best Score/Music - SXSW Film Festival (Music by The Fisherman Three and Ben Fries), Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature  at the  Environmental Film Festival at Yale, Best Professional Documentary at the Real to Reel Film Festival, Best Documentary at the Hardacre Film Festival and Audience Award at the Kandy International Film Festival.

This documentary film on creating awareness about light pollution also received official selections from the Mountainfilm in Telluride, Geek Film Festival, Indianapolis Film Festival, Woods Hole Film Festival, Maui International Film Festival, Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival and at the  Independent Film Festival Boston.


source: The Peninsula

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