Saturday, April 30, 2011

A documentary abuzz with ecological portent

A creative exploration of the global honeybee crisis replete with remarkable nature cinematography, some eccentric characters and yet another powerful argument for organic, sustainable agriculture in balance with nature, Taggart Siegel's attractive call-to-action documentary "Queen of the Sun" represents a natural follow-up to his prize-winning "The Real Dirt on Farmer John," albeit never matching the latter's depth, poignancy and humor.

In recent years, "colony collapse disorder," a phenomenon in which worker bees abruptly disappear, has affected more than 5 million hives (each with 50,000-60,000 bees) worldwide. Given that bees pollinate 40 percent of the food humans eat, their vanishing signals huge repercussions for the planet.
Traveling throughout the U.S. and to England, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand, Siegel assembles a large cast of biodynamic beekeepers, scientists and authors who explore some of the reasons for colony collapse and suggest ways it might be remedied; cute animated segments in different styles help to illustrate their points. And throughout the picture, close-up footage of busy bees pollinating brightly colored flowers, swarming in trees and hanging from honeycombs (and from the limbs and faces of beekeepers) keeps audience attention on the amazing insect many cultures once considered sacred.