“A Life’s Work”
Letterboxd (9/10), Imdb.com (9/10)
How inspiring it is to see individuals take on Herculean tasks that they know up front will require considerable time – perhaps even extending beyond their own lifetimes – just for the sheer passion of what they’re doing and what they believe it can ultimately contribute to the well-being of mankind. Such are the cases examined in this recently released debut documentary feature from filmmaker David Licata, who spent 15 years following the undertakings of four remarkably dedicated individuals pursuing an array of diverse projects whose efforts carry long-term implications. The film, available for streaming and on home media, looks at the endeavors of Jill Tarter, former head of the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project; Robert Darden, founder of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project; David Milarch, founder of the Champion Tree Project; and the late innovative architect Paolo Soleri, a former protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright who launched the “arcology” movement and the construction of Arizona’s ambitious Arcosanti community project. In telling these stories, the director examines not only the particulars behind these ventures, but also the motivations and commitments driving their creators, as well as the challenges associated with carrying out these undertakings. The film presents a balanced view of each of these projects, told economically and on point, without extraneous padding or irrelevant material, a refreshingly welcome relief considering how many recent documentaries have been put together. What’s most significant about this offering, though, is the inspiration that it engenders among viewers. Audience members are treated to a variety of projects that truly depict what constitutes “a life’s work” in every sense of the expression. It’s quite uplifting to see what our visions and beliefs can yield, and this film brings that notion front and center for all to see.