Feature: Celebrate Earth Day with Award-Wining Fantastic Fungi Film and Q&A with Director

Galaxy Theaters Boulevard Mall will host the 5th Anniversary Tour on April 20.

By: Apr. 16, 2024
Feature: Celebrate Earth Day with Award-Wining Fantastic Fungi Film and Q&A with Director
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Feature: Celebrate Earth Day with Award-Wining Fantastic Fungi Film and Q&A with Director
Louie Schwartzberg

There might have been a time when the thought of attending a class, discussion, or event about nature would have caused eye-rolling. But with the emergence of considerable interest in Earth Day and all that affects the planet, a visually stunning cinematic film has been remastered and re-released for fun and informative events. The 4k version of the award-winning documentary Fantastic Fungi will be screened at Galaxy Theaters Boulevard Mall, offering a unique opportunity to engage in a Q&A session with director Louie Schwartzberg on April 20.

The movie delves into the awe-inspiring world of mycelium networks and their transformative impact on the environment. The film features renowned scientists and mycologists such as Paul Stamets and acclaimed authors like Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, and Andrew Weil. Through their expertise, the film offers profound insights into the mysteries of the Earth and how the underground mycelium network can heal and preserve the planet. Furthermore, the film illuminates the beauty, intelligence, and practical solutions offered by the fungi kingdom to address pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges.

Louie helped pioneer time-lapse cinematography after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles because it inspired a sense of wonder.  

“That led me to shoot things like flowers, which could take a month or more to shoot, like, a roll of film, 35-millimeter movie film. And then by getting entranced with making the invisible visible, like watching a flower open, that opened me up to do the films I've done about nature, but more from a feminine point of view, looking at what is the foundation of life,” he explains. “So, for example, Wings of Life for Disney Nature, which is on Disney Plus now, is a story about how flowers seduce pollinators, bees, bats, hummingbirds, and butterflies, narrated by Meryl Streep. And then you think, what do plants need? Well, they need soil. Where does soil come from?”

They come from fungi that break down organic matter into its component parts so that plants can have food.

“That turned me on to making the film Fantastic Fungi. You find out that fungi not only break down things and recycle things for life to grow, but they can also sequester carbon for climate change. They can heal your body with Lion's Vein, for example, with Alzheimer's and Turkey Tail for immunity. Basically, I'm just trying to unveil life's mysteries.”

The audience will experience many beautiful sequences in the movie, such as time-lapse mushrooms, which most people don't realize are like the largest organisms on the planet. The beauty and all that mushrooms can do will blow them away.

“The mushrooms are a window into nature's intelligence, into nature's wisdom, and that's something we all want to reconnect,” says Louie.

“One of the other benefits of having the film showing in theaters is that we want people to come together. After COVID, one of the biggest things we learned was that we were disconnected from each other, which was one of the most difficult things we had to encounter. So, having a live screening that has been remastered is gorgeous, with a beautiful soundtrack. It's going to be truly an immersive experience. People come out of the screening many times crying because the beauty of the film is so overwhelming,” says Louie.

Journalist Stacey Gualandi will moderate the Q&A with the director. Fantastic Fungi will be shown at Galaxy Theatres Boulevard Mall at 7 p.m. on April 20. For more information, visit www.fantasticfungi.com.

Lead Photo by Timothy Dykes 


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