Previously at the ICA - Films

Darwin, Dir. Nick Brandestini, 2011

Darwin

16 Oct 2011

Once a thriving – and reputedly debauched – mining settlement in Death Valley, California, today Darwin is little more than a ghost town, harbouring a scant population of just 35. Away from the trappings of the modern world, this disparate community live an uncomplicated life without government, church, jobs, or children. Among those populating this no-man’s-land are Monty, an acerbic ex-miner who has been in Darwin since the 1950s, Susan, the town’s resident postmistress who knows everybody’s business, and Ryal, a young transman living with his partner Penny.

Through a series of candid interviews, documentarian Nick Brandestini uncovers the often troubled pasts of Darwin’s inhabitants, each drawn to the isolated existence this outpost can offer them, even if some can feel trapped in the sweeping expanse of the Mojave Desert. From the amusingly trivial minutiae of small-town politics, to the portentous story of a nearby secret weapon test site that poses a constant threat to the place, Darwin’s atmospheric tone is pitch-perfect, depicting its curious subjects with an inquisitive mind and respectful empathy.

Dir. Nick Brandestini, Switzerland-USA 2011, 88min

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