After meeting the challenge of documenting the melting of the global ice pack, which culminated in the feature-length film Chasing Ice that screened at Mountainfilm in 2012, photographer James Balog is back as the narrator of the short documentary Message in a Bottle. This time Balog is “chasing” air. Of course rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere can’t be documented photographically the way that melting glaciers can be, so Message in a Bottle documents how science conducts atmospheric measurements instead. This doesn’t mean Danny Schmidt’s film lacks for visual beauty — the splendor at the summit of Mauna Loa stands in counterpoint to the ineffable sadness of the data recorded there — and though his photographic work is not on display here, Balog is a compelling narrator.
- Danny Schmidt