Manufactured Landscapes available for institutional sale and rental

Manufactured Landscapes is currently available for institutional sale and rental through the film’s US distributor, Zeitgeist Films. The film can either be purchased (i.e., by a university library) or rented directly from the distributor. Details and order forms can be found at:

Purchase: The DVD, with Public Performance Rights (PPR), sells for $195 plus $6 for shipping with rights to screen to groups of up to 50 when no admission is charged (i.e., libraries, classrooms, clubs, etc.). If your university wants to show the film and charge admission, they need to contact Zeitgeist for open showing fees. Zeitgeist requires institutional purchase orders or pre-order payment by check or credit card.

Rental: The film can be rented from the distributor for classroom or non-profit organization use. Contact Zeitgeist for details and price quotes.

If you have any questions, please contact Ben Simington at Zeitgeist.

Ben Simington
Zeitgeist Films

The film will be available for commercial / home purchase/rental in the US sometime in November, and it has recently opened in theaters in some European countries. (So far I’ve heard of showings in Germany and France.)

Download Manufactured Landscapes Flyer in PDF format.

Where the Green Ants Dream

By Werner Herzog (1985)
From Rotten Tomatoes website: “Director Werner Herzog’s unusual Aboriginal drama begins and ends with ominous footage of dust storms and tornadoes, accompanied by dramatic classical music. In between is the simple yet jarring story of Aborigines staging protest at the site of a prospective mine. The site also happens to be sacred Aboriginal ground, home of indefatigable green ants whose dreams, the Aborigines believe, are essential to the continuation the entire universe. Hackett (Bruce Spence) is the awkward geologist, manning the mining outpost in what he calls “purgatory south” or the south Australian outback, a landscape crisply sketched by Herzog’s stark cinematography of dust heaps and empty vistas. When the fearless Aborigines walk directly into a line of exploding charges, the mining operation comes to a grinding halt, and Hackett barely prevents frustrated workers from killing them. The simplicity of the Aborigines’ aims, (they will not be swayed by money) serves to highlight the ridiculous and greedy machinations of the mining company as well as the Australian “law of the land.” As the absurdist struggle progresses towards a trial, Hackett’s role as a liaison between the mining company and the stoic natives brings him closer and closer to the Aborigines’ simple yet expansive philosophy of a land-centered spirituality.”

The trial scene is outstanding—a great exercise in the semiotics of nature, contrasting the court of British law with TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge).

The Wedding of Palo

By Rasmussen (1935)

I have an old VHS from Video Yesteryear. A quasi-documentary of “Eskimo life in the Angmagssalik district of Greenland.” It is a wonderful depiction of the toolkit of an indigenous people and a life lived according to the cyclic pattern of weather, seasons, salmon, seals, etc.

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

WAL-MART: THE HIGH COST OF LOW PRICE is a feature length documentary that uncovers a retail giant’s assault on families and American values.

The film dives into the deeply personal stories and everyday lives of families and communities struggling to fight a goliath. A working mother is forced to turn to public assistance to provide healthcare for her two small children. A Missouri family loses its business after Wal-Mart is given over $2 million to open its doors down the road. A mayor struggles to equip his first responders after Wal- Mart pulls out and relocates just outside the city limits. A community in California unites, takes on the giant, and wins! ($11.50@

Turning the Tide: Sustaining Earth’s Large Marine Ecosystems

Directed by Francois Odendaal Productions, and presented with GEF and IW:LEARN

“The Earth’s Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) are places of great beauty, biodiversity and bounty. Humanity depends on the vitality of these coastal areas, yet current human activities are causing catastrophic harm to LMEs. A global movement has begun to stop and reverse this damage before it’s too late. With support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), nations are beginning to turn the tide to save LMEs. And you are part of the solution too…”


By Ashutosh Gowariker (2004)
“Swades” (pronounced “Swah-DESH is the first commercial Indian film to be nominated for a “Best Foreign Film” Oscar. I’ve obtained it a couple times from Netflix here in the U.S., so it can’t be too tough to procure. It is in Hindi (almost Hinglish), but there are English subtitles. As is about typical for Bollywood films, it’s about 3.5 hours long, so one has to be strategic about its use in a class. I’m actually in the process of preparing a conference paper (for the American Anthropological Association meeting), half of which discusses the film, so I’ll just give you part of my draft from that:

The film’s plot revolves around the character of Mohan Bhargava (played by Bollywood megastar Shahrukh Khan), an “NRI” (non-resident Indian) engineer living in the United States and working as the project manager for a NASA satellite program to measure global precipitation. Homesick and lonely, Mohan takes a short-notice vacation to return to India and find his nanny, who he has last touch with over the years. Despite the inclusion of several stock Bollywood elements of plot and style—a love interest initially denied, affirmation of the importance of family, interludes with song and dance—the film was not judged a significant popular success, but critics gave it strong accolades as “a film that needed to be made.”

The film is a rich thematic tapestry, juxtaposing global cosmopolitanism with rural India, national identity with familial obligation, spectacular “high technology” with developmental priorities. Atypically attuned to social discourse for a Bollywood film, it is particularly important for what it reveals about the meaning of space research in India through the allegorical figure of its protagonist, the non-resident Indian and earth remote sensing engineer.

Supersize Me

Why are Americans so fat? Find out in Super Size Me, a tongue in-cheek – and burger in hand — look at the legal, financial and physical costs of America’s hunger for fast food. Ominously, 37% of American children and adolescents are carrying too much fat and 2 out of every three adults are overweight or obese. Is it our fault for lacking self-control, or are the fast-food corporations to blame?

Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock hit the road and interviewed experts in 20 U.S. cities, including Houston, the “Fattest City” in America. From Surgeon Generals to gym teachers, cooks to kids, lawmakers to legislators, these authorities shared their research, opinions and “gut feelings” on our ever-expanding girth. During the journey, Spurlock also put his own body on the line, living on nothing but McDonald’s for an entire month with three simple rules:
1) No options: he could only eat what was available over the counter (water included!)
2) No super sizing unless offered
3) No excuses: he had to eat every item on the menu at least once

It all adds up to a fat food bill, harrowing visits to the doctor, and compelling viewing for anyone who’s ever wondered if man could live on fast food alone. The film explores the horror of school lunch programs, declining health and physical education classes, food addictions and the extreme measures people take to lose weight and regain their health. Super Size Me is a satirical jab in the stomach, overstuffed with fat and facts about the billion-dollar industry besieged by doctors, lawyers and nutritionists alike. “Would you like fries with that?” will never sound the same!

The Power Of One

The Power of One” is a strong movie based on the popular novel. This is quite a different project for director John G. Avildsen (“Rocky” and “The Karate Kid”), but the characters and events mix to create great chemistry. Stephen Dorff as the adult Peekay, the main character, wears his emotions on his sleeve. You can really see the pain he goes through. Morgan Freeman, as Geel Piet, does an excellent job portraying an inmate. I love his accent, and even though he isn’t South African, he does an excellent job depicting one. This film recognizes the pain and anguish African people went through on their continent during World War II. It makes people realize that there are those who can make a difference. In fact, it made me believe that anyone can make a difference if they are inspired enough. I love this film and think it deserves great recognition. The story takes place in South Africa, partly in a jail, where Africans are treated horribly. Peekay, a white boy, grows up in these surroundings, and with the help of his friend Geel Piet learns that what is happening to these people is wrong, and should be made right. After Geel Piet stands up for what he believes, and dies for it, Peekay knows that it is his duty to get involved and help end apartheid. With a great and sad love story, this movie is truly magnificent. It shows us that by coming together we can create our own “power of one” and change the ways of the world that are wrong. Take my word for it and gather your power and courage to see a great movie. This story is the best example of good humanity, and anyone who sees it will be changed forever. ($4.38@

Power and the Land by Ivens (1940); The Plow that Broke the Plains by Lorentz (1936); The New Frontier by McClure (1934); and The River by Lorentz (1937).

Available as a VHS tape distributed by Kino Video some years ago. These are classis Depression-era government documentary films that show the growing political awareness of what today we would call “sustainable technology/ economics.” They also embrace the early 20th century optimism that technology is a solution to all social problems. My favorite of the bunch is Power and the Land, which “observes the daily activities of a dairy farming family in Ohio. The majestic photography…elevates them to iconic figures of Americana, their diligence rewarded by the messianic government in the form of electricity.” (from the liner notes). This film pairs nicely with readings from Marx’s Machine in the Garden as well as readings/ discussions of the core meanings of “modernity” and “progress.”