A portrait of the Earth in the Anthropocene. This documentary visits seven locations that have been transformed by humans on a grand scale. Entire mountains being moved in California, a tunnel being sliced through rock at the Brenner Pass, an open-cast mine in Hungary, a marble quarry in Italy, a copper mine in Spain, the salt mine used to store radioactive waste in Wolfenbüttel and a tar sands landscape in Canada. Initially shown from above as abstract paintings, these terrains are subsequently explored on the ground. The film weaves together observational footage of machines in operation with conversations with the workers. Alongside statements on work processes, environmental damage and technological change, Erde makes this constructed world visible in unique fashion by subtly paring it down: piles of grey matter, hills and mountains. The dimensions are gigantic, the proportions out of control; the world has slipped from humanity’s grasp. “There is always a bigger machine, a bigger engine and when all fails there is dynamite. We always win.” Or do we?
Austrian documentary filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter takes a direct approach to social phenomena on the fringes of our perception, using a static camera and large, geometric compositions. Whether exploring the area around Chernobyl after the disaster (Pripyat), reflecting on a post-human world (Homo Sapiens) or investigating modern food production (Our Daily Bread), Geyrhalter's films are stunning works of art. Uber die Jahre (Over the Years) was shown at BOZAR in 2017.