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Incredible time-lapse footage of the Sun’s surface
11.11.2014
10:25 am

Topics:
Science/Tech

Tags:
Sun

sunimgcolnas1.jpg
 
This is quite mind-blowing: Time-lapse footage compiled from 17,000 images taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory between October 14th to October 30th, 2014. The constructed footage is beautiful and awe-inspiring.

The footage also includes some spectacular solar flares and the largest seen sun spot in over twenty years AR 12192. Now here’s some more fun facts!

The Sun is a star but has no solid surface, instead it is a ball of gas consisting of 92.1% hydrogen and 7.8% helium, which (incredibly) is all held together by its own gravity.

In terms of size, the Sun is 865,374 miles in diameter, and sits at the center of our solar system, and “makes up 99.8% of the mass of the entire solar system.” According to NASA:

If the sun were as tall as a typical front door, Earth would be about the size of a nickel.

As the Sun is not a solid body “different parts of the sun rotate at different rates.”

At the equator, the sun spins once about every 25 Earth days, but at its poles the sun rotates once on its axis every 36 days.

The Sun’s temperature is estimated at 15 million degrees Celsius or 27 million degrees Fahrenheit.

For best effect, watch this stunning time-lapse on full screen!
 

 
Thanks to Michael Gallagher!

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Vinyl and stylus at 1000x magnification
11.07.2014
01:46 pm

Topics:
Music
Science/Tech

Tags:
vinyl
magnification
stylus


 
Here’s a neat image of a record and a stylus at 1000x magnification. It’s pretty incredible to see the etched grooves on the record up close and how they interact with the needle. I’ve always known how record players worked, but seeing the process magnified like this is way cool.

The photos come from Microscopic Images on Twitter.


 
Below, a record being played under a microscope:

 
Via Kottke

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘Open Windows’ updates Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ for the Internet age

00opnwdw.jpg
 
With his third movie Open Windows writer and director Nacho Vigalondo has attempted an audacious remodeling of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window for the social media generation. That he largely succeeds is in part down to his highly imaginative and visually arresting telling of his tale—all told via a laptop screen and a host of various pop-up windows—and a strong performance by Elijah Wood’s as geeky blogger Nick Chambers who finds his life hacked by the sick plans of a psycho troll from Hell.

This is not the first time Rear Window has received a generational make-over: Brian De Palma made his beautifully crafted homage Body Double in the 1980s, while more recently D. J. Caruso successfully updated the format with Disturbia in 2007. Now Spanish-born director Vigalondo has devised a clever way to bring Hitchcock’s concept bang up-to-date with Open Windows. His story follows a young blogger (Wood) who runs the fansite for actress Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey). He soon finds out that he is part of a fake blog and the tool by which hacker-cum-stalker Chord (Neil Maskell) wants to have revenge on the actress.
 
woodopenwindows.jpg
Elijah Wood as Nick Chambers unwittingly(?) watching his fate unfold.
 
Ignacio “Nacho” Vigalondo was born in “a small town in the middle of Spain” in 1977. As a child he wrote stories and created his own comic books, but being raised in a poor family Nacho never considered the possibility of becoming a filmmaker until the mid 1990s when he was inspired by the low budget movies by directors such as Jim Jarmusch, John Waters (particularly Pink Flamingoes), Kevin Smith, and Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. This eventually led to Vigalondo making his own films, in particular his Oscar-nominated short 7:35 de la Mañana (7.30 in the Morning). He then wrote and directed his first movie Los Cronocrímenes (Timecrimes in 2007, which he also acted in, and Extraterrestre (Extraterrestrial) in 2011. Both films played with audience expectations and used interesting plot devices, which Nacho has developed with Open Windows.
 
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Nacho being interviewed online about ‘Open Windows.’
 
In an exclusive interview with Dangerous Minds Nacho Vigalondo discussed his Internet thriller Open Windows (how else? but) via Skype, where he started off by explaining his inspiration for the film.

Nacho Vigalondo: When I started writing the script I was given a good suggestion from my producers—they wanted me to make a movie that was intimate yet had a large presense on the screen, like in the film Closer by Mike Nichols. They wanted to rethink and remake Rear Window for today. Taking that advice to the limit, I offered them a device for making a movie that all happens on a computer screen all the time. So, they had this interesting suggestion and I gave them back this insane approach.
 
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‘Open Windows’ vengeful game of cat and mouse is told via a laptop screen.
 
‘Open Windows’ must have been difficult to film, as you have multiple frames of different action all interacting with each other at the same time. How did you manage this?

Nacho Vigalondo:  The key was the script and then making a really detailed pre-production work. Basically we made a whole film like it was a Pixar movie. We made a whole presentation of the whole movie as we wanted to be really sure about the things we needed in front of the camera for every shot, for every scene. Not only the action inside the windows but also everything that was happening over the whole desktop. The key for us was to have everything preprepared and leaving nothing to improvisation. I love improvisation but in this case it was impossible, for every window is connected with the other ones. So, it was really mathematical in a sense and all about logistics.

Your film develops at a relentless pace, shifting and changing as it progresses, why is this?

Nacho Vigalondo: I didn’t want the movie to rest on the format. I wanted the movie to be crazy and surprising. That’s the reason every twenty minutes the movie changes its whole nature and becomes something else. That’s the reason the movie approaches science-fiction at the end, that’s the reason the movie becomes another genre in the third part. I wanted the movie to evolve all the time. I didn’t want to make a movie that just rests on what happens, I wanted it to be ambitious.

As you say, the film is a genre-bender, do you think this should be a prerequisite for directors when making movies?

Nacho Vigalondo:  Every movie demands something different from you, and since you are in love with the movies you want to make, you have to accept what the movie asks you to do. For example, my previous movie Extraterrestrial was a sci-fi film that turns into a comedy. In this case, Open Windows seems to be a psycho-thriller with erotic elements but the third act turns into a totally different genre. That is something I have to confess, the inspiration for the last hour of the movie is more literary than cinematic, because I love reading novels from the end of the 19th century-beginning of the twentieth century—novels by Conan Doyle, Gaston Leroux The Mystery of the Yellow Room—all those novels in which the characters have fake identities and they are playing with the other characters, and you also have the super heroes at that time. In those novels everything was in the transformation of identity—you can see that in the Fantômas films—for me that stuff, that lack of identity or using identity as a tool makes perfect sense in the social media environment.

Initially when I started writing the script, I didn’t know the movie was about fake identities, but at the end of the movie, the story took me to that place. 
 
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Sasha Grey as Jill Goddard finds she has some unwanted admirers in ‘Open Windows.’
 
‘Open Windows’ raises questions about the ethics of the Internet, do you think the Internet is a force for good or bad?

Nacho Vigalondo:  The Internet is not something apart from us, it is not something that turns us into something different. The Internet is us. I don’t want to think of the Internet as something separate from us that is turning us into something different.

I think the Internet is like a speaker—it is one of us and we have the chance to speak out loud and we all can be heard. For example feminism is rightly more visible than ever before, yet at the same time misogyny is also more visible than ever.

But at the end of the day the Internet is all about us.

Though ‘Open Windows’ has received some negative reviews (mainly for the film’s shift in the third act), this reviewer found Nacho Vigalondo’s film a thrilling, highly inventive and enjoyable romp, which raised a few interesting questions about our relationship with the Internet from voyeurism, stalking and misogyny—though these are not always resolved. The acting may be iffy in places, but Elijah Wood shines and manages to keep the whole film together, which is some feat considering he was acting to camera throughout. The film also stars former porn actress Sasha Grey as the focus of Wood’s attention Jennifer Goddard and Neil Maskell, who previously starred in Ben Wheatley’s ‘Kill List,’ as the villainous Chord.

Open Windows’ is on release from today details here and is also available on VOD details here.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Cannabis Pharmacy: Vaporizers, science, weed and cancer


 
bOING bOING’s Xeni Jardin, as many of our readers probably know, is a close friend of Tara and mine, and she is also a breast cancer survivor. In a clip posted yesterday, she interviewed another of our friends, brilliant Michael Backes, author of the new book Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana (which has a foreword by none other than Andrew Weil, M.D.) about the latest in medical marijuana:

In this video my good friend Michael Backes, medical marijuana R&D expert and author of the book Cannabis Pharmacy (2014), shares some of his knowledge on the therapeutic power of pot. During my treatment for breast cancer, I learned how powerful medical marijuana truly can be in helping to alleviate some of the serious side effects of cancer treatment, including pain, nausea, and loss of appetite. I was not a pot smoker at the time of my diagnosis, and hadn’t used weed since I was a teen. Backes and my fellow cancer patients shared their experience and knowledge with me, and with the blessing of my oncologist, I found that it could be a very helpful form of relief.

In this video, Backes talks about how to use vaporizers, how to dose correctly for different forms of therapeutic relief, the difference between smoking, edibles, and vaporizers, CBD vs. THC, why the classifications of Indica and Sativa don’t matter as much as most people think, and why temperature is important when vaporizing weed.

Buy Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana at Amazon. It’s currently the #1 best-selling book in their Pain Medicine Pharmacology department. Check out the five star reviews.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Steve Jobs memorial dismantled for fear that it would turn Russia gay


 
This gets the eyeroll of the week award. Not as bad as when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that there were no gay people in Iran, but still, it’s up there. There was a six-foot-tall iPhone St. Petersburg, Russia, to honor Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple who passed away of pancreatic cancer in October 2011. The current CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, came out of the closet last week in the form of an editorial for Bloomberg Businessweek in which he wrote that he is “proud to be gay.”
 

 
That was it for the memorial. The touch-screen monument was designed to emit free Wi-Fi in temperatures as low as negative-30 as well as take photos via a built-in camera. After Cook’s announcement, Maksim Dolgopolov, director of West European Financial Union, the Russian company that originally commissioned the memorial, said that it was now “gay propaganda.” In addition the fact that Edward Snowden used Apple products to leak NSA documents in 2013 also played a role in the decision to remove the monument.

Hilariously, Dolgopolov said that he would reinstall the monument if it can be modified to instruct people to use products made by Apple’s competitors.

Eyeroll.

You can watch workers removing the big black slab here:
 

 
via Vocativ
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Talking Heads: Max Headroom interviews Sting and David Byrne


 
Max Headroom, now there was a weird-ass experiment. In hindsight the digital character is the very definition of a “curio.” It takes only a few seconds of watching Max to remember just how irritating he was, a stuttering, condescending, smarmy non-entity (literally) who is devoid of content (making him a natural pitchman for Coca Cola, which he was for several national advertising campaigns). Watching authentic artists like Sting and David Byrne interact with Max is a little painful. 

Before the narrative sci-fi show Max Headroom descended on U.S. shores in 1987, British audiences had been “enjoying” The Max Headroom Show, which featured interviews and music videos, throughout 1985 and 1986. In the first clip, Sting is promoting The Dream of the Blue Turtles as well as The Bride, his first movie after Dune, so it must be 1985. True to Max’s essential vapidity, they discuss shoes for most of the interview. The strategy of intersplicing unmotivated stock footage resembles nothing so much as a short film by Lelaina Pierce as recut by Michael Grates, to invoke the Winona Ryder and Ben Stiller characters from Reality Bites.
 

 
Of course Sting is inherently annoying—check out his shades—but it’s really not his fault in this case; David Byrne’s naturally distanced temperament works a lot better. Unfortunately, the clip, put up by the official Talking Heads YouTube account, gets badly out of sync after a couple of minutes, but given that it’s Max Headroom, it hardly matters. Byrne is there to promote True Stories, his only directorial feature, so it must be about a year later than the Sting interview.

The Max Headroom Show, not to be confused with the narrative show Max Headroom, was the original Short Attention Span Theater. As many have noted, it was the perfect plastic entertainment for the Reagan era, so much so that Garry Trudeau in Doonesbury turned the sitting president into an unfunny imitation called Ron Headrest.

In retrospect what’s interesting is that the technology was so evidently driving the car—the technical feat of an electronic Matt Frewer cackling at Sting is actually impressive, but the form was miles ahead of the content. Space Ghost Coast to Coast, which hit in the 1990s, evened the scales a bit more successfully.
 
Max Headroom interviews Sting:

 
Max’s interview with David Byrne after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Predictions about the year 2000 by Arthur C. Clarke from 1964 (and the Stanley Kubrick connection)

Clarke Kubrick
 
In his 1972 book The Lost Worlds of 2001, Arthur C. Clarke says that he met Stanley Kubrick in a Trader Vic’s on April 22, 1964. The two formed a fast partnership. In May of that year, Clarke and Kubrick began hammering out the basic ideas that would eventually become 2001: A Space Odyssey. They would use Clarke’s short story, “The Sentinel” as a jumping off point and, in order to generate a rich background for the film, they took the somewhat unusual approach of attempting to collaborate on the creation of a new novel “with an eye on the screen” before writing the screenplay (although, in reality, the process became much more blurred).

Right around the same time, Clarke appeared on the BBC series Horizon in September of 1964 where he discussed some of his predictions for the year 2000 and beyond. You can watch the fascinating appearance in the two clips below. Horizon, now its 50th year, had just aired its first episode on Buckminster Fuller in May of 1964. Clarke’s appearance was part of the 6th episode of the series entitled The Knowledge Explosion and it provides us with some interesting insight into his vision of the future and some of the concepts that he and Kubrick were likely contemplating. 

Clarke was keeping a detailed log of his work with Kubrick during this time period. To give the Horizon clips some context, here are a few of Clarke’s journal entries from 1964 as he and Kubrick went back and forth about their ideas for the novel and film. From The Lost Worlds of 2001:

May 31. One hilarious idea we won’t use. Seventeen aliens – featureless black pyramids – riding in open cars down Fifth Avenue, surrounded by Irish cops.

June 20. Finished the opening chapter, “View from the Year 2000,” and started on the robot sequence.

August 6. Stanley suggests that we make the computer female and call her Athena.

August 19. Writing all day. Two thousand words exploring Jupiter’s satellites. Dull work.

September 7. Stanley quite happy: “We’re in fantastic shape.” He has made up a 100-word questionnaire about our astronauts, e.g. do they sleep in their pajamas, what do they eat for breakfast, etc.

September 8. Upset stomach last night. Dreamed I was a robot, being rebuilt. In a great burst of energy managed to redo two chapters. Took them to Stanley, who was very pleased and cooked me a fine steak, remarking “Joe Levine doesn’t do this for his writers.”

September 29. Dreamed that shooting had started. Lots of actors standing around, but I still didn’t know the story line.

 

On Horizon, Clarke accurately predicts instantaneous communication via satellite between people across the globe and talks about putting space travelers in suspended animation to traverse long distances over huge periods of time just as the astronauts do in 2001. He also throws out some bizarre concepts like replacing human servants with bioengineered apes and dolphins, but as he says early in the first clip “If what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I’ll have failed completely.”

 

 
Part II after the jump…

Posted by Jason Schafer | Discussion
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John Cleese: FOX News viewers are too stupid to realize that they are stupid


Be afraid, be very afraid…

For some years now, I have been fascinated with the Dunning-Kruger effect. I believe it was some Internet writings by Errol Morris that first turned me on to the idea around 2007. It’s incredibly useful, I feel like I find a use for it almost every day. If nothing else, it’s a spur to humility, because we’re all susceptible to it. Some, ahem, far more than others.

In a 1999 article called “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments,” David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University came to the conclusion that the qualified are often more skeptical about their own abilities in a given realm than the unqualfied are. People who are unqualified or unintelligent are more likely to rate their own abilities favorably than people who are qualified or intelligent. In the paper, the authors wrote, “Across four studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd.”

However, people with actual ability tended to underrate their relative competence. Participants who found tasks to be fairly easy mistakenly assumed that the tasks must also be easy for others as well. As Dunning and Kruger conclude: “The miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.”
 

 
Charles Darwin put it most pithily in The Descent of Man when he wrote, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” As W.B. Yeats put it in The Second Coming: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” Apparently there is a scientific grounding for that line.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is unusually suitable in describing the many frustrating positions and rhetoric of the Republican Party. My favorite (if depressing) example of the Dunning-Kruger effect comes from the mouth of George W. Bush in the days before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. As Bob Woodward wrote in Plan of Attack:
 

The president said he had made up his mind on war. The U.S. should go to war.

“You’re sure?” Powell asked.

Yes. It was the assured Bush. His tight, forward-leaning, muscular body language verified his words. It was the Bush of the days following 9/11.

“You understand the consequences,” Powell said in a half-question. …

Yeah, I do, the president answered.

 
Yeah, I do, the president answered. What on earth could that utterance by Bush possibly mean? Could it not be clearer that what was in Bush’s head at that moment and what was in Powell’s head at that moment had very little to do with each other? In effect Powell was taking Bush’s word that Bush had seriously considered the consequences of invasion, when to be frank, all available evidence, both at the time and later on, suggests that Bush was foolhardy about what the actual consequences of invasion might be.
 

 
Earlier this year, the research of Dunning and Kruger was referenced by a relatively unlikely source: John Cleese, the brilliant comedian who famously portrayed one of the single most obtuse and supercilious characters in TV history, Basil Fawlty. Cleese believes FOX’s viewership is too unintelligent to put the proper brakes on their own thought processes: “The problem with people like this is that they are so stupid that they have no idea how stupid they are. You see, if you’re very, very stupid, how can you possibly realize that you’re very, very stupid, you’d have to be relatively intelligent to realize how stupid you are.”

Apparently Cleese and Dunning are pals—he says so in the video, anyway. Here, have a look:
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Real-life ‘Rosie the Maid’ robot actually existed in England in 1966
09.23.2014
11:54 am

Topics:
Science/Tech
Television

Tags:
robots
The Jetsons


 
An entire generation of kids was brainwashed by the creative folks at Hanna-Barbera into thinking that the future would consist of treadmill sidewalks, levitating high schools in the clouds, and family-sized flying saucers for the commute. It’s hard to watch The Jetsons today and not think, “Boy, they really thought about resources differently in the 1960s.” (Actually, this radio program from the Canadian Broadcast Company argues that The Jetsons got more right than you’d suspect…. can you say Roomba?)

One of the prime objects of techno-fetishization was the Jetsons’ maid, called Rosie, who (per Wikipedia) was an outdated model but so beloved by the family that they would never think to replace her. I also didn’t realize until researching it today that most of the Jetsons episodes were made in the 1980s—in fact, Rosie appeared in only two episodes in the original 1962-1963 run and was a more frequent premise in the 1980s episodes.

Anyway, we think of that kind of robot as existing purely in the future, but a man named Dennis Weston who lived in Leeds, England, created a reasonable—and working—facsimile of Rosie almost at the same time as those original Jetsons episodes. As early as 1966, Weston created “Tinker,” a remote-controlled robot that could wash the car, weed the garden, take the baby for a stroll down the road, and go shopping. The catch was that Tinker couldn’t travel more than 200 yards of David’s garage, where he controlled Tinker through a control panel. Due to lack of space at David’s home the robot was eventually passed on to a family friend in 1974. Tinker was activated by 430 motors, and a TV camera in the robot’s head transmitted an image to the operator.

Weston died in 1995 at the age of 71. The Cybernetic Zoo blog received a message from Weston’s son Martin in 2012, according to which “Tinker was given to his Dad’s friend, Brian, in 1974 as Dennis no longer had the space available to keep it. Brian owned a shop called Leeds Radio during the 60s and 70s; he sold army surplus radio equipment. Most of the gear that went through Brian’s shop was eventually stripped down and sold off as spare parts. Unfortunately, the same thing probably happened to Tinker. ... Percy was just another one of Martin’s Dad’s 10,000 unfinished projects. It never got completed and the hand just accumulated dust under a pile of junk in Dennis’ cellar/workshop. It probably ended up being melted down for scrap.”

One of the images below states that Tinker “can be programmed to perform ‘any reasonable task.’” Given the apparent importance of user control during those tasks, it’s a little unclear what “programmed” could really mean here…...
 

 

 

 

 
Here’s Weston working on his follow-up to Tinker, named Percy:
 

 

 
Here’s an early Jetsons sampler from 1963:
 

 
via Voices of East Anglia

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘The Diatomist’: Explore the creation of microscopic kaleidoscopic Victorian-era artforms


 
The Diatomist is a short documentary about Klaus Kemp, master of the Victorian art of diatom arrangement.

Diatoms are single cell algae that can be found virtually anywhere where there is standing water. Drains, ponds, bird baths, that’s where they live, invisible to the naked eye until the discovery of the microscope. For protection, the tiny organisms create a glass-like shell around themselves, almost like they are living jewels. During the Victorian era, microscopists would arrange diatoms into elaborate and kaleidoscopic patterns—think of it as a rough equivalent of building a ship in a bottle, but with some of the tiniest microorganism to be found on Earth. Their meticulous works, marrying art and science could only be viewed under a microscope.

Since he was a teenager, Mr. Kemp has devoted his career to creating stunning diatom arrangements and is acknowledged as the last great practitioner of this artform. Matthew Killip’s exquisitely beautiful short film The Diatomist showcases his incredible work.
 

 
Director’s Statement:

I’m really interested in the way people interact with the natural world (I’ve previously made a series of short documentaries for UK TV about working relationships with monkeys and apes. I’m also a huge admirer of the Victorian naturalists ... So I was very excited when I recently saw my first Diatom arrangements, by the German master JD Möller (1844 - 1907).  The arrangements really embody that beautiful combination of art and science one can find in the period, and I loved seeing the hand of man display the work of nature so beautifully. The overwhelming variety and intricacy of diatoms can’t help but recall Darwin: “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

I was very curious to see if anyone still practiced diatom arrangement and also to find out how it was done. I managed to track down Klaus Kemp in the UK—he’s really the only person doing this to a professional level (he’s able to make a living from a small base of collectors) - and filmed with him for one afternoon in December 2013. During the filming Klaus told me all the Victorian diatomists took their secrets to the grave, so there was no accurate information on the practice when he first started, aged sixteen. It has taken him years to be able to create these stunning microscopic slides of arranged diatoms, and although The Diatomist is a modest short film I hope it does some justice to what really is Klaus’ life’s work.

 

 
All diatom arrangements and photographs by Klaus Kemp. Soundtrack by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bernard Herrmann and Cults Percussion Ensemble.

Matthew Killip is an English filmmaker living in New York. His documentaries have been broadcast on UK television and exhibited in festivals around the world including Sundance and True/False.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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