After moving from his home in rural Maine to Brooklyn, filmmaker Ian Cheney says he lost his childhood fascination with astronomy. That’s not surprising in a city where lit-up streets and buildings render stars nearly invisible. Light pollution serves as a frequent boogeyman of the modern age, a metaphor for critics who say we’ve lost touch with nature’s simple wonders. But what if the cosmos weren’t obscured for future generations of urbanites? Would seeing the Big Dipper really enrich their lives? Has constant exposure to artificial light somehow impaired city dwellers? In The City Dark, showing tonight courtesy of the Environmental Film Festival, Cheney attempts to address those questions. An ardent eco-documentarian (he co-wrote and -produced the 2007 corn-industry exposé King Corn), Cheney has avoided being lumped with alarmists such as Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) by substituting emotional manipulation with sincere curiosity, subtle self-awareness, and welcome humor.
The film shows at 7 p.m. at E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW. $15.