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Documentary Series Puts Life on Ice
Oklahoma City University will open its 11th annual documentary series at 2 p.m. March 29 with a showing of Werner Herzog’s “Encounters at the End of the World.” The documentary tells the story of a hidden society of 1,000 people living in close quarters at “the end of the world” — Antarctica — risking their lives and sanity in pursuit of scientific discoveries. Herzog, made famous after his previous documentary “Grizzly Man,” traveled to Antarctica with his cameraman to become the first outsiders invited to watch and interact with an otherwise isolated society that includes marine biologists, physicists, plumbers and truck drivers. The film is another example of Herzog’s abilities to capture the essence of living in extreme conditions. The film has garnered praise from critics including Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, who called it “A travelogue or an exhibit of eccentrics . . . a poem of oddness and beauty. Herzog is like no other filmmaker, and to return to him is to be welcomed into a world vastly larger and more peculiar than the one around us.” The documentary series at OCU, this time called “Close Encounters with Unknown Worlds,” is run through the Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film and Literature. Harbour Winn, director of the center, said the series gives the public a chance to experience true stories of people in distant lands. “Documentaries capture the many stories of humanity in ways that fiction can’t reach,” Winn said. “We hope that through these selected films people here can better appreciate the world in which they live after seeing it through the perspectives of those who live far away in completely different conditions.” Winn added that the theme of this series in particular is an attempt to show the most extreme differences of life in Western cultures to those in other parts of the world, yet highlighting the similarities humans everywhere share. “We are trying to take a closer look at parts of the world that will seem alien or foreign to us because of geography, linguistic and cultural differences, horrendous experiences, engineering feats of good or questionable nature, the role of the arts in healing and other aspects of human nature,” he said. “These films take us to places and experiences that most of us will never know, and yet I think we will find in them strange and at times unsettling ways that these places and experiences have more in common with us than we realize.” Other documentaries in the series include Yung Chang’s “Up the Yangtze” (April 5) and Sean and Andrea Nix Fine’s “War Dance” (April 19). The screenings are free to the public. The films are shown in the Kerr McGee Auditorium in the Meinders School of Business at OCU. The business school is located at N.W. 27th Street and Blackwelder Avenue. The series is sponsored by the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Endowment Fund. For more information about the documentary series go to www.okcu.edu/film-lit/, call Winn at (405) 208-5472 or e-mail him at hwinn@okcu.edu.