A groundbreaking, immersive portrait of the contemporary commercial fishing industry, Leviathan was filmed off the coast of New Bedford, Massachusetts—at one time the whaling capital of the world as well as Melville’s inspiration for Moby Dick. Today New Bedford is the country’s largest fishing port with over 500 ships sailing from its harbor every month.
Leviathan follows one such vessel, a hulking groundfish trawler, into the surrounding murky black waters on a weeks-long fishing expedition. But instead of romanticizing the labor or partaking in the longstanding tradition of turning fisherfolk into images, filmmakers Lucien Castiang-Taylor (Sweetgrass) and Verena Paravel (Foreign Parts) present a vivid, almost-kaleidoscopic representation of the work, the sea, the machinery and the players, both human and marine.
Employing an arsenal of cameras that pass freely from film crew to ship crew and swoop from below sea level to astonishing bird’s-eye views, the film is unlike anything that has been seen before. Entirely dialogue-free, but mesmerizing and gripping throughout, it is a cosmic portrait of one of mankind’s oldest endeavors.
Plays with Magnetic Reconnection, a short film contrasting the northern lights with decaying manmade debris surrounding the Arctic Canadian town of Churchill, Manitoba. The film features an original score by Jim O’Rourke (Sonic Youth, Wilco), a voice-over by Will Oldham and likely some of the best footage of the aurora borealis ever captured.