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Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City, June 13-17, 2005

News : African and Caribbean Cinema

How Werner Herzog’s ‘Fireball’ Blends Film and Science to Capture ‘Awe of the Unknown’ (Video)

Werner Herzog says in his new film “Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds” that to be a scientist you need a sense of wonder. That’s a quality that’s been true of just about all of Herzog’s documentaries, and in researching the science of meteorites with Clive Oppenheimer, he aimed to capture the beauty that scientists feel when exploring the unknown.

“Fireball” melds the science and mathematics of meteorites and asteroids with the culture, religion and mythologies that have grown over millennia out of this fascination with these ancient objects from outer space. And by teaming up with Oppenheimer as they did on “Encounters at the End of the World,” Herzog asks bigger, more spiritual questions than just wondering where space rocks came from.

“Clive never has a boring moment in him, and it was very visual, very beautiful, but I knew it had to do with science, but with the awe of discovery, the awe of the unknown that’s coming at us from outer space, and all the questions involved, not only the mythologies,” Herzog told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at the Virtual Studio at TIFF. “It was clear there was something that had to do with great awe, which is innate in cinema and in science.”

Also Read: 'Fireball' Film Review: Werner Herzog Looks to the Sky and Brings the Wonder

Herzog and Oppenheimer travel to meteorite craters all over the world, from the Caribbean to India to Antarctica, and in each place they wanted to research more than just the terrain.

“I wanted to go to an impact crater where we wouldn’t just go to a hole in the ground. We would connect what we were seeing with deep oral traditions about the site, about a star that fell to Earth. The locations were guided by something that was cinematic and visual but also where we could entwine these themes of the natural phenomena with our cultural imaginations,” Oppenheimer said.

Oppenheimer then picked up a meteorite from off his shelf and explained just how much history and wonder is contained within that little fragment.

“You can’t touch an older object than this; this is four and a half billion years old,” he said. “There’s an immense sense of awe again that we have for these objects, and we chased them wherever they landed, whether it be in a museum or a dog kennel.”

Also Read: Werner Herzog Calls 'Family Romance, LLC' One of His 'Essential Films' That Reveals 'Our Human Condition'

But even the moments in “Fireball” in which scientists in glasses and lab coats explain the complexities of mathematics and geology, Herzog frames it all with a visual eye and that same sense of awe. In the film we see remarkable, colorful, microscopic designs on particles of space dust that would be impossible to naturally create on Earth.

“There’s wild, complete theoretical mathematical sorts of things and a field expedition into the middle of nowhere,” Herzog says of the film. “So there are not only impact craters or mythologies, there’s also pure mathematics that are beautiful to behold when you see it exemplified.”

“Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds” will be available on Apple TV+ later this year. Check out TheWrap’s interview with Herzog and Oppenheimer above.

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David Oyelowo’s Directorial Debut ‘The Water Man’ Added to Toronto Film Festival Lineup

David Oyelowo’s feature directorial debut “The Water Man” has been added to the Toronto International Film Festival lineup for 2020 as one of the festival’s special events.

Also added to this year’s TIFF Official Selection are the documentaries “Underplayed” about female artists in the electronic music industry, “The Boy From Medellín” about Colombian musician J Balvin, “The Truffle Hunters” from director Michael Dweck and the animated “Wolfwalkers” from the team behind “The Secret of Kells.”

“The Water Man” is one of two specially selected family films for the festival and stars Oyelowo alongside Rosario Dawson, Maria Bello and Alfred Molina and is a mystical adventure that recalls family-friendly movies of the 1980s.

Also Read: Toronto Film Festival Lineup to Include Films Directed by Regina King, Halle Berry

“TIFF is about the films, and we’ve stayed true to that mission,” TIFF co-head Joana Vicente said in a statement. “We also are committed to an enhanced Festival experience for film lovers. TIFF is renowned for conversations that dive deep into the history and context of the films that we curate, and the artistic processes of the talent who create those films. TIFF is an international platform for audiences, media, and the industry to discover great filmmakers, and explore new directions in cinema.”

“It was important for TIFF to move forward and keep the creative spirit alive,” added TIFF co-head Cameron Bailey. “That is why we are so happy to deliver TIFF. We are dedicated to providing a platform for filmmakers of colour, emerging talents, and independent creative film artists, and particularly women filmmakers — to spotlight their work, raise their profiles, and amplify their voices, especially those of Canadian and Indigenous artists, and continue to be a thought leader in film culture.”

TIFF also announced its conversation series, including six different sit down chats with Halle Berry, Claire Denis and Barry Jenkins, Ava DuVernay, Saoirse Ronan, Barry Levinson and Denzel Washington and D-Nice and Anthony Mandler.

Also Read: David Oyelowo Says 'Selma' Was Snubbed by Oscars After Voters Complained About Cast's 'I Can't Breathe' Shirts

Because TIFF will be a hybrid virtual and in-person event, many of the conversations in the series will be available on TIFF’s Bell Digital Talks platform, with tickets available for purchase through the TIFF website.

Also added to the lineup is a series of four films curated by Bailey under the heading Planet Africa 25. The four new movies are dedicated to cinema from Africa and the African diaspora. The film’s are Charles Officer’s “Akilla’s Escape,” Dieudo Hamadi “Downstream to Kinshasa,” Tommy Oliver’s “40 Years a Prisoner” and Dawn Porter’s “The Way I See It.”

The selection is inspired by the Planet Africa program that was created in 1995 and ran at the festival for 10 years. A panel discussion, Planet Africa 25: Origin Stories,” will also take place on Sunday, Sept. 13, followed by special dance party DJ’ed by Mr. Akil D and livestreamed from a secret location.

Also Read: Frances McDormand's 'Nomadland' to Get Joint World Premiere From Venice and Toronto Film Festivals

“Planet Africa stands as one of the proudest moments in my career,” Bailey said. “25 years ago, I joined with colleagues and friends to launch a Festival platform for films from all over the African diaspora. We brought filmmaking legends together with new talent. We hosted a Planet Africa party that got both Hollywood stars and everyday Black people on the dance floor. We made our dreams for Black creativity real. I hope celebrating that work now can help inspire the next generation.”

Finally, the festival unveiled 35 short films as part of its Short Cuts program, including the film “David” from director Zach Woods. The full list of films can be found at, as well as the festival’s full schedule now available.

TIFF 2020 runs Sept. 10-19.

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