Noche Zero

We wanted to share a few highlights from Ian’s fall trip to the Atacama Desert in Chile to participate in the Noche Zero symposium exploring the disappearing darkness. THE CITY DARK was showcased in the town square of San Pedro de Atacama, and lighting designers, architects, photographers, scientists, and policymakers from around the world shared their research on light at night.

The trip began with a special tour of ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array, an array of radio telescopes in the desert’s high and dry Chajnantor plateau. The largest astronomical project in existence, ALMA is the result of an international partnership between Europe, the U.S., Canada, Asia, and Chile. The project aims to provide insight into the early formation of the universe, stars, and planets.


Ian on the tour of ALMA with other Noche Zero guest speakers: above, Dr. George Brainard, Neurology Professor and Director for the Light Research Program of Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University (and an expert featured in THE CITY DARK); below, National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson.

After each day’s conference presentations, the group ventured into the desert to visit the Valley of the Moon and the salt-encrusted Cejar Lagoon, and finally, to stargaze under the Atacama’s famously dark night skies.

The symposium culminated in participants’ signing of the Noche Zero Manifesto, a pledge to keep working to deepen human understanding of the value of darkness. Big thanks to all the Noche Zero organizers and participants. Here’s a parting shot by Ian of the Milky Way, as seen from San Pedro. Not a bad view at all.

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WD in the Balkans

Not long ago we had the pleasure of traveling to a Bosnia and Herzegovina (“the BiH”), where we were hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, to show THE CITY DARK and TRUCK FARM and speak on issues of energy efficiency, sustainability, and advocacy.

With our inimitable host and guide, Cultural Attaché Sunshine Ison, we held screenings and talks at American Corners—small libraries created to help increase understanding between Bosnia-Herzegovina and the U.S. by making available all kinds of books, magazines, and films about America. We also visited schools in Tuzla (Bosnia’s “Salt Lake City”, in the northeast) and Banja Luka (on the lovely green Vrbas River, in the northwest) to lead workshops, show films, hear from students, and meet up with local film festival organizers.

on the road in Bosnia

talking about Truck Farm in Tuzla

cheerful (and energy-efficient!) school windows in Tuzla

with our Cultural Attache and American Corner host in Sarajevo

Ian even managed to meet up with some local amateur astronomers and catch the Transit of Venus from high in the hills outside of Sarajevo.



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THE CITY DARK premiered on PBS July 5, and the response has been terrific! Until August 5, you can stream the 60-minute, PBS version of the film online, or check your local listings.

We’re heartened by the recent media coverage around light pollution in conjunction with our PBS run. Here’s a sampling:

- “We barely see the stars in Chicago, and that’s dangerous” in the Chicago Sun-Times

- “Where Have All the Stars Gone?” on PBS News Hour

- “Lost In ‘The City Dark’: Documenting Missing Stars” on NPR’s Weekend Edition

- “PBS’s The City Dark Will Change the Way You Look at the Night Sky” on Vulture

- “PBS film laments vanishing night sky” on CBS News

And here is a recent POV | PBS  filmmaker interview with Ian Cheney:

Watch The City Dark: Filmmaker Interview with Ian Cheney on PBS. See more from POV.


Thanks to everyone who has supported the film and tuned in!


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Please support PROJECT DAD

Project Dad

We need your help!

Filmmaker and longtime WD collaborator Sharon Shattuck (animator extraordinaire for TRUCK FARM and THE CITY DARK) has only three days to go in her Kickstarter fundraising campaign for PROJECT DAD. Please consider chipping in a few bucks to support production of the film, as Sharon prepares to hit the road this summer for interviews around the country.

Directed by Sharon and co-produced by Wicked Delicate, PROJECT DAD is a feature-length documentary about LGBT families in America, stemming from Sharon’s own experience and celebration of her transgender dad. Viewers will meet children of LGBT families, expectant LGBT parents, family law experts, and politicians from both sides of the fence.

The Kickstarter campaign ends Saturday, June 30! Visit Kickstarter to read more about the project and see links to recent buzz. Huge thanks to everyone who has already chipped in, spread the word, and shown support!


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2012 Truck Farm Garden Contest winners

Thanks to everyone who entered and helped spread the word about our third annual Truck Farm Garden Contest! Special thanks to our judges, Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle.

First place, with a gift certificate for the Seed Savers Exchange, goes to Karlie Cole of Minnesota. Karlie wrote, “Inspired by Truck Farm – but with no truck and no sun except on the driveway – my Prius became a greenhouse!” Check it out:


Second place, with a Truck Farm DVD and trucker hat, goes to Steve Madewell of Maryland. Steve created a vertical LEGO garden:

Steve wrote, “I’ve been experimenting with ways to encourage children and families to invent their own methods of growing fresh food at home, regardless of where home may be… It turns out LEGOs drain fairly well, are easy to reconfigure for  plant growth, and most plants don’t seem to mind being grown in and around toys.”

So much creativity! Keep on planting.


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Knight Fellowship at Western Reserve

Thanks to Western Reserve Academy for these photos from Ian Cheney’s residency as the Knight Fellow in April. Ian visited the campus to show films, give talks, and lead classes related to environmental issues and filmmaking. Thanks to the students, faculty, and staff for this terrific experience!

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The search continues…

WD recently wrapped a cross-country filming trip for one of our works-in-progress, The Search for General Tso, exploring the history and character of Chinese food in America. Director Ian and producer Amanda visited and interviewed chefs, restaurateurs, writers, and historians from San Francisco to Missouri… and ate thousands of portions of General Tso’s chicken.

These are just a few of the people we met:

Chef Jesse Koide at Mission Chinese Food in SF (soon to open in NYC!) wields his General Tso’s Veal Rib, one of the restaurant’s innovative dishes. Mission Chinese started as a food truck before setting up in an existing Cantonese restaurant – for a while, the two restaurants operated simultaneously.


Eve and Frank Collins run the Chino Bandido Chinese-Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, AZ, dishing up combos (Frank says there are 90,000 possibilities) like Jade Red Chicken in a cheese quesadilla, with Cuban black beans and pork fried rice on the side. After the shoot, Eve and Frank sent us away with a huge box of grapefruits and oranges from their citrus orchard behind the restaurant.


In Tucumcari, NM, on former Route 66, we met bouyant restaurateur and culinary teacher Tammy Fang at Golden Dragon Chinese. Tammy’s family is the only Chinese family in town.


At Leong’s Asian Diner in Springfield, MO, chef Wing Yee Leong and his brothers carry on the legacy of their father, 91-year-old David Leong, who created a legendary local favorite, Springfield Cashew Chicken: the heartland’s answer to Chinese cuisine.


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THE CITY DARK on PBS this summer

We’re thrilled to share the news that THE CITY DARK will air on PBS this summer, starting July 5!

POV (Point of View) launched on PBS in 1988 to showcase challenging, contemporary, point-of-view documentaries. For the full press release and roster of this season’s POV films, click here! We’re honored to be part of such a fantastic 2012 program.

Visit to check your local listings!


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THE CITY DARK’s NYC theatrical run

There are still a couple of days to catch THE CITY DARK at the IFC Center in Manhattan (through Jan 24), and last week’s premiere was a terrific success! The film was named an NYT Critics’ Pick – check out the full New York Times review.

Joining director Ian Cheney for the premiere event and post-film Q&A on January 18 were special guests Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Susan Harder of the International Dark-Sky Association, and Rori Baldari, Joe Delfausse, and Jason Kendall of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. Thanks to all our guests, the IFC Center, and our distributor Jim Browne at Argot Pictures!

Here are some photos from the premiere (for more updates, visit our Facebook page!):

IFC marquee at our Manhattan theatrical premiere

Pre- and post-screening Jupiter-gazing courtesy of Rori Baldari, Joe Delfausse, and Jason Kendall of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

Pre- and post-screening Jupiter-gazing courtesy of Rori Baldari, Joe Delfausse, and Jason Kendall of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

THE CITY DARK at IFC through January 24!

Post-premiere Q&A with director Ian Cheney, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos co-writer Ann Druyan, and Susan Harder of the International Dark-Sky Association

Susan Harder of the International Dark-Sky Association speaking during the Q&A

THE CITY DARK was an NYT Critics' Pick!

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Save the date!

We’re thrilled to announce the New York theatrical premiere of THE CITY DARK at the IFC Center on Wednesday, January 18. Ian will do a Q&A after the screening on opening night. The film runs through January 24. Spread the word! Here’s the IFC trailer for THE CITY DARK:

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