Tag Archives: documentary

Quick Take: Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin


Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin Official Trailer from Arwen Curry.

Debbie says:

The 53-minute film Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, directed by Arwen Curry, has been available for occasional screenings in various cities for several months. The film aired last night on PBS’s American Masters series, and is available for free streaming here.

I had the opportunity to see a rough cut of the film in 2016, and a screening of the final version this past spring. I will be streaming the movie and watching it again this month, because I don’t feel like I really saw it the first time: so much of Le Guin’s history is bound up with my own life, and so many people (other than Le Guin herself) who were part of my life at one time or another are in the movie — and many of them are dead. So I watched the film, but much of my mind was wandering down various memory lanes, and I can’t really say much about it that’s coherent.

Except …

Ursula Le Guin was an absolutely fascinating human being, as well as being a brilliant writer of both fiction and nonfiction. I think the standard narrative is that Arwen Curry was lucky to get the opportunity to direct this movie and, while that is true, I think Le Guin was also lucky (or at least wise) to agree to give Curry the opportunity. The film’s fondness for Le Guin shows through in almost every frame. We would expect respect, admiration, and even delight — and we get all of those. But not every documentarian would have the skill and the wherewithal to show affection for her subject — and Curry does this while avoiding hero-worship, and maintaining a good film-maker’s distance.

At least based on what I took in the first two times, Le Guin comes through in this movie as complex, nuanced, occasionally sharp-tongued, and extraordinarily clear-sighted. Curry’s decision to portray some of the key books of Le Guin’s oeuvre with animations is daring, and I thought it worked.

When I watch it again, I’ll be watching for directorial choices and narrative decisions: I hope I’ll be able to separate myself from my own past enough to really do the film justice.

If you’re interested in — Le Guin, writing, science fiction, fantasy, academic families, the American west, natural landscapes, or, well, so many other things — check this out while you can.

The Further Adventures of David Roche

Lynne Murray says:

When I checked in on the irrepressible Dave Roche, whose memoir, The Church of 80% Sincerity, I reviewed here in 2008, I had no idea that Dave had gone and joined a gang–a gang of five to be specific–and taken part in a film, Shameless: The Art of Disability.

Filmmaker Bonnie Sherr Klein says, in the first few seconds of the film, that she started from a place where:

I thought disability was hideous and I couldn’t stand to walk by a mirror and see myself walking … and now the film I’m making …. grows right out of that impulse to … correct the images and have people tell their own stories. Because people with disabilities have not been represented in the media in anything like the truth that I’ve discovered of … our lives.

The gang of five describes themselves as: Bonnie Klein, earnest filmmaker; Catherine Frazee, writer, disability guru; Persimmon Blackbridge, visual artist, writer, “badgirl”; David Roche, aka “Reverend Dave,” writer and humorist; Geoff McMurchy, artistic director KickstART Festival, “Renaissance guy”

These “fellow travelers” take the viewer on a journey described by the National Film Board of Canada:

Art and activism are the starting point for a funny and intimate portrait of five surprising individuals with diverse disabilities. Packed with humour and raw energy, this film follows the gang of five from B.C. to Nova Scotia as they create and present their own images of their disabilities.

Although it was released in 2008, Dave notes at Irked Magazine that the entire 71-minute film can be (theoretically) viewed in full online for free at the National Film Board of Canada site. I say “theoretically” because in the interests of full disclosure I must say that my aging computer (or possibly my low-speed DSL connection) demonstrated its techno-disability by not being able to show more than a few minutes without stalling. So I’ve seen the first seven minutes of the film three times and the rest not yet. I can say that the wit and hard-won self-confidence of the participants shows from the first moments.

In case your computer and connection are faster, the complete film is here:

Aside from his film work, David is crafting a new performance piece on “Catholic Erotica,” which definitely contains “Language & themes not suitable for children.” It can be previewed here.