Over the summer of 2014, plans were developed for a world-wide theatrical release of biophilia live that ultimately has taken the film into more then 400 locations – on every continent except Antarctica (we tried to reach there, too; it didn’t work out). These have included scores of independently-owned cinemas across the United States and Canada; “arthouse” chains in Australia; probably every independently owned cinema in Poland and the Czech Republic; dozens of locations across the United Kingdom and Ireland; a university cine club in southern Chile; a museum in Quito, Ecuador; the Havana Film Festival in Cuba; a few cine-clubs in South Africa; a festival in Turkey; a garden art space in Caracas, Venezuela; and countless other locations. On the island of Madeira, just off the coast of Portugal, a festival showed the movie in Cine Sol, a hundred year-old Art Deco cinema on a cliff over-looking the ocean. There were also malls in Mexico, Russia (including in the middle of Siberia), Kazakhstan, Peru, Colombia, Japan, Norway, Denmark, and Italy.
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A strong selection of venues have been – and I say have been, because screenings continue, albeit at a slower pace – in scientifically oriented venues. In Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the TELUS Spark Science Centre presented a number of special events. The film’s Russian premiere happened at the 360-degree Contemporary Science Film Festival in Moscow. In Guayaquil, Ecuador, the film was presented by the Fundacion Pro-Bosque, which manages protected areas in the dry tropical forests of coastal Ecuador, with an emphasis on reforestation, agroforestry, research, environmental education, and ecotourism. In Panamá City, a screening occurred at the Biomuseo – Museum of Biodiversity. At NYU Abu Dhabi, the Imagine Science festival presented a screening. Elsewhere in Southeast Asia and parts of the Arab world, the Goethe Institut’s Science Film Festival presented the film as a special event, occasionally in outdoor screenings, to audiences they reported were very large and principally composed of people around the age of 12. Cities for these screenings included Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, and Bandung (Indonesia), Hanoi (Vietnam), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), and Phnom Penh (Cambodia). The Goethe Institut also helped us secure a screening, under the auspices of the Science Film Festival, at the Edward Said National Conservatories of Music branch in Ramallah (West Bank). Simultaneous screenings were made to occur at the Conservatory’s branch in Gaza City, and, through different channels, at the Haifa and Tel Aviv Cinematheques. No press releasing announced that. We just quietly set it up that way.
One highlight for me was a screening at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt, in a screening facilitated by but not actually produced by our friends with the Goethe Institut. The Alexandria Library is the most famous library of the ancient world. Built by Ptolemy I Soter, successor of Alexander the Great, the Library was famously destroyed by a series of attacks including by Julius Caesar in 48 BC and continuing over the first few centuries AD. In the second half of the 20th century, a modern version called the Bibliotheca Alexandrina was built. It opened – some 1600 years after the final destruction of the original – in 2002. The new location includes an art center, and the film screened there to coincide loosely with “International Women’s Day.”
Some screenings have been more playful; one lady in Bremen, Germany, had a party at her office work space and showed the movie. Somewhere in southwest Colombia, students at a college got together and watched the movie – just a touch before its mass media release, mind you, and they did not leak it to the internet – on an overhead projector in a classroom. Currently, a bunch of screenings are taking place with a roaming film festival that travels Mexico; I told them just to give me some reports when they’re finished.
In September, 2014, Björk herself presented the Reykjavík premiere to a warm community of friends. She only spoke Icelandic in the introduction, indicating that this screening was proudly intended for locals. Before and after, as Björk D.J.d a reception but also talked with attendes, there was talk of screenings at remote locations across Iceland at a later date. Who knows? Maybe that will happen this summer.
– Ray Privett, booker
buy When Björk Met Attenborough and Biophilia Live now, for just a few dollars, and you can also share a free stream with a friend.