Daily Archives: May 9, 2017

Bill Nye: Science Guy, Director – David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg

I am guessing that many of you will know of Bill Nye, a nerdy American TV personality famous for his 1990’s kid’s science show “Bill Nye the Science Guy”. This documentary introduces you to the current version of Bill and his new initiatives and advocacy for science and a science based approach to issues of the day. I have always been a big fan of Nye and his goal to get children interested in science and being scientists but more recently he has moved on to a quest of challenging the war on science being waged by right wing politicians and evangelical and socially conservative Christians. The film takes us to the Ark Park and Creation Museum in Kentucky run by Ken Ham and a Christian organization known as Answers in Genesis. The two theme parks are attempts to debunk evolution and our scientific understanding of the origin of the universe and support the Genesis myth as fact. We follow Nye as he visits the two sites and confronts the nonsense of Ken Ham and the nonsense promoted at the two parks. The parks are promoted to schools and we see many children touring the sites and being indoctrinated. Nye laments this and argues for enhancing science education in public schools and the media. While this is part of his crusade we also see his efforts to confront climate deniers and push for acceptance of the science around climate change. Some of this is best content in the movie as he meets with leading climate deniers and defeats them in debate. Many have accused Nye of giving the creationists and climate deniers a platform by debating them in public but he argues that they already have been given platforms by the fossil fuel industry and mainstream media. They need to be confronted with the truth. Finally, we see his most recent role as the CEO of The Planetary Society, a non-profit organization that promotes space exploration through research and education. The organization was founded by Carl Sagan and Nye is honoured and humbled to have ben asked to lead it. The project we follow is the launch and deployment of a solar sail. The latter was a pet project of Sagan who argued it was a way for man to reach the nearest stars within our lifetime. Sagan’s initial effort failed and the launch craft crashed on take off but Nye succeeds in launching a prototype and opening the door to this innovative technology. All in all a hopeful, optimistic film about a leading advocate for science in a world increasingly plagued with fake news and oppression of science and scientists.

A Friendship in Tow/Toe, Director – Atsushi Kuwayama

This was a very short ten-minute doc that was likely my second favourite of the 2017 Hot Docs Festival. Directed by a Japanese director and set on a long stairway in a hilly part of Lisbon it follows an elderly disabled Portuguese woman as she is assisted up the stairs by a young Japanese tourist. On the way they talk but the language difficulties make it a comedy of errors as they struggle to climb and understand one another. The conversation and the setting are the whole story so I won’t spoil it by detailing it but only to tell you it is humourous, human and lovely. The film ends as they reach the summit and part ways. Worth a watch if you get the opportunity. Here is a link to the trailer to give you a sense of it: https://sushikuwayama.com/ate-a-procima/