Close Encounters with Unknown Worlds | 11th Annual Documentary Series

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11th Annual Documentary Series

Close Encounters with Unknown Worlds

Sundays, 2 PM, Kerr McGee Auditorium in the Meinders School of Business
NW 27th Street and McKinley Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73106
A discussion session follows each film for those who wish to stay
Free Admission, Donations Appreciated
Director: Dr. Harbour Winn,
For More Information, Call (405) 208-5472


March 29, 2009, Kerr McGee Auditorium, 2 PM

Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World, USA (2008), 99 min

A hidden society of one thousand men and women live together at the end of the world under unbelievably close quarters in Antarctica, risking their lives and sanity in search of cutting-edge science. For the first time, an outsider has been admitted. In his first documentary since Grizzly Man, iconoclastic Werner Herzog, accompanied only by his cameraman, travels to Antarctica for his latest meditation on nature. Herzog explores this land of fire, ice, and corrosive solitude to examine human nature and Mother nature, juxtaposing breathtaking locations with the profound, surreal, and sometimes absurd experiences of the marine biologists, physicists, plumbers, and truck drivers who choose to form a community as far away from society as one can get. Herzog dedicates this Oscar-nominated film to renowned film critic Roger Ebert. With rare access to the raw beauty and humanity of the ultimate Down Under, Herzog confirms his standing as the poet laureate of men in extreme conditions.

April 5, 2009, Kerr McGee Auditorium, 2 PM

Yung Chang’s Up the Yangtze, China (2008), 93 min

A luxury cruise boat motors up the Yangtze, navigating the mythic waterway known in China simply as The River. The Yangtze and all of the life that surrounds it is about to be transformed by the biggest hydroelectric construction in history, the Three Gorges Dam. Director Chang returns to the gorgeous, now-disappearing landscape of his grandfather’s youth to trace the surreal life of a farewell cruise that traverses the gargantuan waterway. With a humanist gaze and wry wit, Chang captures the microcosmic society of the luxury liner: a bewildered young girl, whose peasant family faces relocation from the encroaching floodwaters, trains as a dishwasher; a teenage waiter tagged by upper management with a new Westernized name, “Jerry,” warily grasps at a better future; wealthy international tourists try to catch a last glance of a country in dramatic flux. Up the Yangtze gives a human dimension to the wrenching changes facing not only an increasingly globalized China, but the world at large. The Three Gorges Dam, contested symbol of the Chinese economic miracle, provides the epic backdrop for a dramatic rendering of life inside modern China. Winner of awards around the world, including Best Canadian Documentary.

April 19, 2009, Kerr McGee Auditorium, 2 PM

Sean & Andrea Nix Fine’s War Dance, USA (2007), 107 min

Set in northern Uganda, a country ravaged by more than two decades of civil war, Oscar- nominated War Dance tells the story of three orphans whose families have been torn apart, their homes destroyed, and who currently reside in a displaced persons’ camp. When they are invited to compete in an annual music and dance festival, their historic journey to the nation’s capital promises an opportunity to regain a part of their childhood and to taste victory for the first time in their lives. Their love of music and dance brings joy, excitement and hope back into their poverty-stricken lives; their odyssey becomes a stirring tale about the power of the human spirit to triumph against tremendous odds. Won “Audience Award” at Woodstock Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, Aspen Filmfest; Won Best Documentary Director at Sundance.


Admission to the film series is free, but donations help sustain the Institute’s mission. Donations can be made at each film or mailed to the OCU Film Institute Endowment at Oklahoma City University or the OCU Film Institute’s Designated Endowment in the Community Foundation of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund. Oklahoma City University and the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Endowment Fund for the university’s Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film and Literature also support the Institute.