The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the UCLA Film and Television Archive's Contemporary Documentary Series continues tonight at 8 at UCLA's Melnitz Theater with two outstanding offerings, Aaron D. Weisblatt's 22-minute "Sam" and Rick Lomba's 97-minute "The End of Eden."
"The End of Eden" is an urgent and terrifyingly persuasive survey of Africa's increasingly rapid rush toward catastrophe, in which we can see writ large the fate of the rest of world if drastic steps are not taken to restore and to preserve ecological balances in the environment.
Lomba starts out by telling us that only 1% of Africa's fabled wild animals remain and proceeds to show us a continent besieged by an epidemic spread of land destruction coupled with an rapidly escalating population, a combination that has already spelled epic-scale disaster. Lomba carefully--and with forgivable repetitiousness--outlines the role of wild animals in the maintenance of ecosystems and shows how much of the continent is destroying itself in a deadly combination of ignorance and greed.
"The End of Eden" leaves us with a heightened awareness that nuclear weapons are not our only means of self-destruction.
Weisblatt's "Sam" is the perfect curtain-raiser, a warm portrait of an admirable New Englander named Sam Phelps, who has lived his entire life in harmony with nature. Phelps is a farmer, a nature columnist, a woodcarver, a restorer of fine old homes and a conservationist who worries about who will carry on the fight to preserve the environment after he's gone.
Information: (213) 825-2345, 825-2581.