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The American dream of owning a house with a white picket fence goes head-to-head with environmental sustainability in this urgent, beautifully crafted documentary. When an ambitious real estate developer sets out to transform thousands of acres of pristine hill country around Austin, Texas into a suburban development threatening a nearby natural spring and local treasure the community fights back. In the conflict that ensues, we see in miniature the struggle between development and preservation that today plays out in cities and towns across the country. A work of stunning visual beauty and epic scope, The Unforeseen is a grand meditation on the destruction of the natural world in pursuit of an often fleeting dream.
- AUDIO COMMENTARY by Director Laura Dunn
- SECOND AUDIO COMMENTARY by Producer & Motion Graphics Designer Jef Sewell, Cinematographer Lee Daniel and Sound Designer Tom Hammond
- THEATRICAL TRAILER
- ENGLISH 5.1 SOUNDTRACK
- ESSAY BY FILM CRITIC DENNIS LIM
- SCENE SELECTIONS
A BEAUTIFUL, SOULFUL work about real estate development and sprawl... and if you think that s impossible you haven t seen it. Andrew O Hehir, SALON.COM
A GORGEOUS, LYRICAL documentary. J.R. Jones, CHICAGO READER
A STUNNINGLY GRAND and BEAUTIFUL movie. Mark Nichol, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
A BEAUTIFUL, SOULFUL work about real estate development and sprawl... and if you think that s impossible you haven t seen it. --Andrew O Hehir, SALON.COM
A GORGEOUS, LYRICAL documentary. --J.R. Jones, CHICAGO READER
A STUNNINGLY GRAND and BEAUTIFUL movie. --Mark Nichol, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
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The film struggled to get released because producers thought it too 'regional'. The narrative revolves around one specific instance of land development in Austin, Texas. Yet the conflict central to the film, the battle between development and establishment, is common to every place and to contemporary life.
Director Laura Dunn came to the festival screening and fielded several questions from the audience. During the film, I was reminded of my surroundings when stock footage of [then Governor] George W Bush came on the screen and the rest of the SF audience around me made hissing noises.
I felt that the film was remarkably even-handed without making an effort to do so. In other words, I think this was a great documentary that was more about bringing the story on the screen rather than putting someone's spin on it.
There is one lobbyist who is shown in a negative light (we hear his words while we only see his little fingers painting and gluing together models of military vehicles) however, this portrayal was his choice -- he agreed to be heard but not to be videotaped & interviewed. So the footage of model making is married to his voice-overs.
All things considered, this is one of the best docs I've ever seen, and I still get chills just thinking about it. It should be required viewing in schools.
Texans, and Austinites in particular, are the ones whose hearts (and blood pressure) will be most affected by this documentary. But I can't imagine an American alive who couldn't recognize some aspect of these issues playing out in his or her own state, or town, or neighborhood.
The value of this story will be most accessible to people who are already interested in government, environmental politics, and the economy. Though made by forthright environmentalists the documentary will be fascinating to those people whether they fall on the pro-growth, slow-growth, or no-growth side of the issues, and rewards your full attention.
The filmmakers do an excellent job of getting all sorts of voices to speak their piece on camera, from former hometown boy Robert Redford and former Texas Governor Ann Richards, to a local farmer with homespun wisdom, to a couple of articulate local developers and the somewhat laconic lobbyist for the corporate interests with which they were aligned. The most telling moment in the film for me is when that lobbyist, who formulated a pro-growth (anti-environmental) law and got it passed at the state level says -- in a completely dispassionate tone -- "Legislature burned Austin to the ground." (That same lobbyist sent a note to the filmmakers when he signed his release for them to use his footage: "Great job!" and drew a smiley face on the post-it.)
I also recommend the engaging bonus commentary track by the director and other crew members, who talk not only about specifics of the issues and personalities in the movie -- they are all longtime locals -- but also offer some extremely useful tips for documentarians and other shoestring filmmakers. One thing: it's helpful when your mentor and advisor is Terrence Malick (another local).