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Catching Up With Ian Cheney of ‘The City Dark’

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POV: Since the ‘The City Dark’ premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in 2011, it’s played to audiences around the world. How have people reacted to the film, both in America and internationally?

Ian Cheney: The response has been wonderful. It’s reassuring to hear from older people that they miss the stars, and that they want to become active in curbing light pollution in their communities; and it’s terrific to engage younger people in thinking about how to protect a resource — the darkness — that few of us have noticed disappearing.

POV: You point towards the inventive use of lighting at the High Line Park in New York as a model of what lighting cities in the future may/should look like. Are there other examples of exciting usage of lighting technology taking place?

Cheney: LED lighting promises to make our lights more energy efficient. Hopefully, these lights can also be designed to be more directional, and more shielded, so that we can get all the light we need but use less energy and cause less wasteful glare in the process.

POV: What do you think is the most important thing an individual can do to bring back the night sky?

Cheney: Look up. The more we remember to look up, the more we notice the changes in our night skies; the lights in our cities; and the opportunities for creating better lighting regimes to bring back the stars and the dark.

POV: What are you working on next?

Cheney: We’re knee-deep in two films: The Search for General Tso, a film chronicling the rise of Chinese food in American culture, and Bluespace, a film about the urban waterways around New York City, and the search for water in outer space.

The City Dark is now streaming on the POV site, but only for a limited time! Watch the film online »

POV Staff
POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 300 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.
  • LanceDiskan

    Thanks to PBS and filmmaker Ian Cheney for bringing the fight for natural darkness to a wider audience. The (night) sky is the one ecosystem shared by all humanity, and it will take people all around America and the world to regain and retain an unspoiled vision of the cosmos so essential for planetary survival. It was our inheritance, and we owe it to our children. There are many ways for folks to make a real contribution, and night sky advocacy groups continue to multiply. Good lighting is a relatively minor adjustment that will simultaneously save money, save energy, save wildlife, save our own health and save a sacred aspect of the human experience.

    Lance Diskan, Founder
    Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition  -  Flagstaff, Arizona
    (World’s First International Dark Sky Community)

  • RTG

    Nat Geo,

    I would like to add that I live in Northern California, NOT the Northern California that means San Francisco, but, instead, the “real” Northern California which runs from Sacramento north to the Oregon Border.
    On many many occasions I was taken by my parents, and then took my own children West and North into the Sierra Nevada mountains.  And you need to know that that the stars are as bright in some of those viewing spots as if NO light pollution exists.  I would just like to give hope to those of you who do not know, that thousands of and thousands of people and families each year observe stars unadulterated by light pollution.

    Rick Giannola
    Chico, CA
    Facebook : rtg_chico

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