search

Homo Sapiens

Homo Sapiens

Here’s the joke—if you can call it that—of Homo Sapiens, the eerie and post-apocalyptic new documentary piece by Austria’s Nikolaus Geyrhalter: It’s got no people in it. Shot all over the world, the film offers a breathtaking array of abandoned places. None of them are identified (no narration, no text, no trace of human presence), though some are well-known: the Buzludzha Monument in Bulgaria, which resembles a massive Communist spaceship that sustained a crash landing; Japan’s Hashima Island, a nightmarish maze of concrete apartment blocks and stairways that was abandoned in the 1970s; the streets and shops of the Fukushima exclusion zone; the so-called Cavern Of The Lost Souls, a subterranean lake in Wales used to dump old cars. One almost wishes that Geyrhalter (Our Daily Bread) had come up with a less on-the-nose title. But then, what else could he call it?

Alongside these remnants of failed industry (this Chicago-based publication recognizes at least one place as nearby Gary, Indiana) and natural catastrophe are ghostly abandoned shopping malls, temples whose floors have been split by earthquakes, hospital basements full of rotting medical samples, deserted slaughterhouses, airplane graveyards, ship cemeteries. Anything that’s an example of culture, commerce, or know-how exists somewhere in ruins. There is a sick, Life After People-type thrill to seeing the spaces of our everyday lives—stores, offices, train stations—wrecked by years of overgrowth and non-maintenance. The fact that movies are a technology of motion makes them uniquely suited to capturing stillness; Geyrhalter takes full advantage, using vivid sound design and his own eye for striking static compositions to create haunting tableaux.

There is beauty in the abandoned, forgotten, and decrepit, in bubbles of rust and beams of light that cut through collapsed roofs, but that’s not what Homo Sapiens is after. Its only explanation for itself is that pesky title, which frames what follows as being about the human species—those tried-and-true questions of what we leave behind and whether the things we build are really an extension of ourselves. Cut off from human activity, they sure seem alien and mysterious, like traces of a lost civilization that we can never understand, even though it’s just us. Geyrhalter has made some more conventional documentaries (most recently the made-for-TV CERN, title self-explanatory), but his work has always had a spookiness to it. Here, he’s thinking spatially, using the screen to create an unsettling place where the audience can probe what the world created around them means and what matters, if anything. One might argue that 20 minutes or so is enough, but what Homo Sapiens offers in its succession of carefully framed shots is sometimes too tantalizing to resist. Pointedly, one of the abandoned places it visits is a movie theater.

— Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, A.V. Club

Homo Sapiens

Fri October 28, 2016, 7:30 only, Muenzinger Auditorium

Switzerland, 2016, in None, Color, 94 min, 1.85 : 1

Director: Nikolaus Geyrhalter

recommend

Tickets

10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.

Parking

Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.

RTD Bus

Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

C.U. Film Program

(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

Thank you, sponsors!
Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Looking for a gift for a friend?
Buy a Frequent Patron Punch Card for $60 at any IFS show. With the punch card you can see ten films (a value of $90).

Virtual titles to stream from home

Cox & Kjølseth
: Filmmaker Alex Cox & Pablo Kjølseth discuss film topics from their own unique perspectives.

Z-briefs
: Pablo and Ana share Zoom-based briefs on what's currently playing at IFS

Sprocket Damage
: Sprocket Damage digs deep(ish) into current and classic films and film-related subjects to bring to you insightful, humorous, and enlightening perspectives on the industry.

Search IFS schedules

Index of visiting artists

Sat Oct 30, 2021

Eraserhead

At Muenzinger Auditorium

Sun Oct 31, 2021

Mulholland Drive

At Muenzinger Auditorium

more on 35mm...