Fascinating slime mould documentary The Creeping Garden returns to Montreal

 

Poster for the documentary film The Creeping Garden. Note the reference to Montreal's Fantasia Film Festival in the upper left hand corner.

Poster for the documentary film The Creeping Garden. Note the reference to Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival in the upper left hand corner.

The documentary film The Creeping Garden was one of the sold-out hits of the 2014 Fantasia Film Festival. Now the film is in limited release in Europe and North America, and Montrealers can watch it again, or for the first time, at the Dollar Cinema.

I saw and enjoyed The Creeping Garden at Fantasia, and reviewed it for the Montreal Gazette. Here are the first few paragraphs of my review:
“Slime mould – each word is bad enough by itself, but the effect is much worse in combination – eww, ick, gross! Slime mould sounds dangerous AND disgusting. Parents might panic if slime mould were found in their child’s school; potential buyers would refuse a home with slime mould in it, and on top of that, it sounds as slippery as the proverbial banana peel.

“And yet, after watching the documentary film The Creeping Garden (which had its world premiere at Fantasia) I know that it is not dangerous, and I do believe that an enterprising person could turn slime mould into the next chia pet, or a modern-day version of “sea monkeys.” Somewhere, an MBA class might be working on such a project right now. If so, the first order of the day would have to be – a name change.

Transforming plasmodium., looking pretty and colourful. Credit: Steven L. Stephenson

Transforming plasmodium., looking pretty and colourful. Credit: Steven L. Stephenson (Part of a New York Times slide show “Beauty and the Blob.”)

“Using beautiful, often hypnotic images, and the words of artists and scientists (amateur and professional), The Creeping Garden introduces us to this fascinating . . . entity. Slime mould was once thought to be a plant at one stage of its existence and an animal at another, because of its ability to move, albeit slowly. (It moves slower than the slowest snail; you need time-lapse photography to see it.) For some time, slime mould was classified as a fungus, but that designation was later changed, too.

“Scientists estimate that slime mould could be as much as 600-million years old.There are more than 1,000 varieties of slime mould out there. It can look like a delicate fern, little yellow balls, grains of translucent rice, chopped up spaghetti, or a meandering river, seen from above. On the other hand, one kind goes by the common name of Dog Vomit, for reasons that are quite obvious when you look at it.

“Sometimes the film shows us slime mould as the naked eye would see it, other times we see it magnified through a high-powered microscope.

“Slime mould has attracted many fans, and they come in many varieties,too. There are those who study it in their spare time just for the joy of discovery, others who make art with it (images or music) yet others who are using it to solve real-world problems, such as the quickest way to get to a fire exit in a building with a complicated layout.”

Metatrichia vesparia, looking quite weird! Credit: Steven L. Stephenson

Metatrichia vesparia, looking quite weird! Credit: Steven L. Stephenson (Part of a New York Times slide show “Beauty and the Blob.”)

You can read my full review Creeping Garden review on the Gazette web site. (When the paper revamped its “platforms” my name got scrubbed off, but it IS my review, I assure you!)

That review includes several links, so you can learn quite a bit more about slime mould, if you want to.

This slide show from the New York Times might get you in the mood for the film.

If you want a very quiet pet, you can order your own slime mould kit from the Carolina Biological Supply Company.
The Creeping Garden is co-directed by Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp. It’s 81 minutes long and can be seen at the Dollar Cinema, 6900 Décarie Square, in Montreal, until Nov. 12, 2015. It’s one of the cinema’s “Marquee” presentations, which means that tickets actually cost $5. Quite a good deal, really!

Public transit users can get to the Dollar Cinema via the Namur metro, via bus lines 17, 160, 161, and 166.

Visit The Creeping Garden’s web site and Facebook page for more info about the film. You non-Montrealers can see if the film is coming to your town.

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