Entries in Film (8)


Chemist Hopes 'Artificial Leaf' Can Power Civilization

SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Imagine an artificial leaf that mimics photosynthesis, which lets plants harness energy from the sun. But this leaf would have the ability to power your homes and cars with clean energy using only sunlight and water.

This is not some far-off idea of the future. It’s reality, and the subject of a jury-prize-winning film in the GE Focus Forward Film Competition.

Jared P. Scott and Kelly Nyks’ short film, The Artificial Leaf, showcases chemist Daniel Nocera, the inventor of the artificial leaf, a device that he says can power the world.

“The truth is stranger than fiction,” Kelly Nyks, a partner at PF Pictures, told ABC News. “What I think is so exciting is that Dan has taken this science and applied it in a way that makes bringing it to scale to solve the energy crisis for the planet real and possible.”

Nocera’s leaf is simply a silicon wafer coated with catalysts that use sunlight to split water to into hydrogen and oxygen components.

“Essentially, it mimics photosynthesis,” Nocera told ABC News.

The gases that bubble up from the water can be turned into a fuel to produce electricity in the form of fuel cells. The device may sound like science fiction fantasy, but Nocera said he hopes one day it will provide an alternative to the centralized energy system — the grid.

Worldwide, more than 1.6 billion people live without access to electricity and 2.6 billion people live without access to clean sources of fuel for cooking.

“This is the model: We’re going to have a very distributed energy system,” Nocera told ABC News. With the leaf, “using just sunlight and water, you can be off the grid. If you’re poor, you don’t have a grid, so this gives them a way to have energy in the day and at night.”

With just the artificial leaf, 1.5 bottles of drinking water and sunlight, you could have enough electricity to power a small home, but the cost is still a problem, though Nocera said he believes that will come down with time and research.

The artificial leaf is cheaper than solar panels but still expensive. Hydrogen from a solar panel and electrolysis unit can currently be made for about $7 per kilogram; the artificial leaf would come in at $6.50.

Nocera is looking for ways to drive down the costs make these devices more widely available. He recently replaced the platinum catalyst that produces hydrogen gas with a less-expensive nickel-molybdenum-zinc compound. He’s also looking for ways to reduce the amount of silicon needed.

In 2009, Nocera’s artificial leaf was selected as a recipient of funding by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E), which supports energy technologies that could create a more secure and affordable American future.

Nyks and Scott said they hope The Artificial Leaf will bring awareness to the public that sustainable energy solutions do exist.

“We make films for social action,” Scott, also a partner at PF Pictures, told ABC News. “We see films as a tool for social change. And what I think Dan sketches out is that we start with energy. And if we solve the energy crisis, we’ll solve the climate crisis, and then we’ll solve the water crisis, and then we’ll solve the food crisis. But it starts with energy.”

The directors were one of 30 filmmaking teams asked to make a movie that could highlight an innovation that could change the world as part of GE Focus Forward, a series of three-minute films created by award-winning documentary makers including Alex Gibney, Lucy Walker, Albert Maysles and Morgan Spurlock.

Anyone with an Internet connection has access to the videos online. The winning entries are featured at

So far, total media impressions for GE Focus Forward have exceeded 1.5 billion. In addition, the films are screening at all the major film festivals around the world and have played on every continent, including Antarctica.

Nyks and Scott said they hope to take the success of the short and turn it into a feature-length documentary.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Kodak Goes Bankrupt and Sells Film Divisions

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News(LOS ANGELES) -- Eastman Kodak is bankrupt, and the company is selling their film divisions, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Rochester, N.Y.-based company wants to unload their personalized imaging and document imaging businesses that includes the “traditional photographic paper and still camera film products.”

The company hopes a deal will be sealed by the first half of 2013.

In January, Kodak filed for bankruptcy and is currently auctioning off more than 1,000 of its patents.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


"The Avengers" and the Power of the Throwback ANGELES) -- Hollywood's new box-office king, The Avengers, demonstrated the power of the throwback film ahead of several other films that will provide a blast from the past this summer.

The Avengers not only shattered the previous opening record with $200.3 million grossed during its debut weekend, its global opening in one week has brought in more than its recent film forerunners, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America, brought in their entire theater releases, according to box office figures.

Matt Patches,'s movie editor, said he wasn't surprised that the film was "huge," describing The Avengers as an "endeavor that was five years in the making."

"Once Iron Man was a hit in 2008, we knew The Avengers was going to be big because Marvel put everything into it," he said.

Each forerunner film built anticipation for The Avengers.

"They were almost like promotions for The Avengers. The films created the biggest trailer you've ever seen," he said.

Patches said the film had a broad appeal that was, however, unexpected, given that comic books "are still a 'geek' medium."

Iron Man 2, the previous highest grosser of the franchise had opening sales of $128.1 million and a total gross of $312.4 million, according to Box Office Mojo, dwarfing its prequel debut of $98.6 million. But Iron Man's gross was higher at $318.4 million.

Tim Burton's Dark Shadows film, to be released on Friday, is based on a 1966-1971 gothic soap opera that aired on ABC from 1966 to 1971. Burton's last film, Alice in Wonderland, is a throwback of a different kind. That had an opening weekend debut of $116.1 million in 2010, the highest that weekend.

This year's superhero genre, ever-present in the summer blockbuster set, may give Disney, the studio for The Avengers, reason for concern. (The Walt Disney Co. is the owner of ABC News.)

The Amazing Spider-Man will be released on July 4 and The Dark Knight Rises will follow on July 20. Both franchises had films that performed notably well overall, giving reason for proceeding versions.

The last Batman film, The Dark Knight, from 2008, still has the no. 3 spot in all-time opening box-office. Directed and produced by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight had an opening weekend debut worth $158.4 million, and a total gross of $533.3 million, Box Office Mojo reports.

This year's The Hunger Games follows with an opening weekend debut of $152.5 million. Columbia Pictures' Spider-Man 3 follows at no. 5 with a weekend opening of $151.1 million. That film grossed $336.5 million after it was released in May 2007.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Moviegoers Going to the Movies Less Now than Before Recession

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Don’t tell the people behind the upcoming Academy Awards, but a new survey finds Americans not going to the movies as often as they did before the recession hit.  According to a new survey, 55 percent of respondents who go to the movies report that they are going less frequently now than they did before the economy went south.  In addition, 61 percent of U.S. adults said they rarely or never go out to the movies.

One factor may be the cost.  According to the National Association of Theatre Owners, the average movie ticket price rose to a new record high in 2011 -- $7.93.  For a family of four, that’s nearly $32, not counting snacks.

The survey found moviegoers coming up with a variety of tactics to save money at the theater:

  • Go to a matinee instead of an evening show – 62 percent
  • Bring my own snacks and/or drinks – 38 percent
  • Use coupons to save on ticket costs and/or concession stand purchases  - 32 percent
  • Pay for one movie, but sneak into additional movies – 6 percent

Additional survey findings:

  • 51 percent of respondents said they rent or buy movies on DVD or Blu-ray.
  • 34 percent said they stream movies, with 25 percent of those streaming with a paid online provider such as Netflix or Amazon and 18 percent streaming online for free. An additional 30 percent said they watch movies on demand from a cable or satellite provider.

The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive, and involved 2,217 U.S. adults.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Directors Release Open Letter Protesting VOD Service

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Several of Hollywood's most successful directors have issued an open letter stating their opposition to a new video-on-demand service that will allow customers to rent some movies just 60 days after they open in theaters, for approximately 30 dollars. The Hollywood Reporter says James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Kathyrn Bigelow, Michael Bay, Guillermo Del Toro and Todd Phillips are just a few of the 23 directors and producers who signed the letter in conjunction with the National Association of Theater Owners, asking "for a seat at the table" to "hear the studios' plans for how this new distribution model will affect the future of the industry that we love."

The letter contends that the DirecTV service, which launched Thursday with the Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston comedy Just Go with It and will be made available to its high-definition customers, will cost movie theaters a significant amount of money. It argues, "What sells for $30-a-viewing today could be blown out for $9.99 within a few years. If wiser heads do not prevail, the cannibalization of theatrical revenue in favor of a faulty, premature home video window could lead to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. Some theaters will close."

Customers who rent a movie using the new service will be able to watch it as many times as they want for 48 hours.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Atlas Shrugged' Part 1 Released, Ayn Rand Adaptation

The Strike Productions(NEW YORK) -- Atlas Shrugged, the movie adaptation of Ayn Rand's 1957 classic, hit theatres on Friday. The novel, which centers around railroad executive Dagny Taggart as she fights to keep her business alive as American society crumbles around her, has become a favorite of conservatives, who value the book's free-market themes, and the trailer was recently screened at the Conservative Political Action Conference. The movie, which stars Taylor Schilling as Taggart and was directed by Paul Johansson, will be split into two parts.

Here's what critics are saying:

According to the Wall Street Journal "the first installment of a projected trilogy, doesn't give the book a fair shake. In terms of craftsmanship it's barely professional, except for Taylor Schilling's tightly focused performance as Dagny Taggart, the heroine trying to keep her railroad company from being destroyed by a government that's hostile to individual achievement."

According to The Hollywood Reporter "many scenes are devoted to dull conversations among business fatcats about the economics of railways and steel, central industries that helped drive the nation 60 years ago but seem like afterthoughts today (Amtrak, anyone?). Updating the story would provide a provocative test to any writer but could certainly be done; however, to do so without acknowledging the present-day realities of high-tech industries, outsourcing, shifting transportation modes and advanced information technology (the characters here actually read newspapers) places the action in an unrecognizable twilight zone."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kodak Profit Drops 95% In Final Quarter of 2010

Image Courtesy -- Brandon Goodman/Getty Images for the PGA TOUR(ROCHESTER, N.Y) – Upstate New York-based Eastman-Kodak said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter revenue numbers were down 25 percent from where expectations were for many different reasons. The company’s revenue totaled $1.93 billion in the period from October to December, falling short of the $2.11 billion analysts had predicted.

While slacking sales of film and older model camera equipment have sliced into Kodak’s profits, the company also says lower prices from new companies on digital products, falling licensing fees, and an increase in commodity prices hurt their bottom line.

Kodak faces strong competition from both Sony and Canon in the digital camera market.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kodachrome Taken Away: Last Photo Lab Processing Landmark Film to Stop

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PARSONS, Kan.) -- They really are taking Kodachrome away, this time for good.

The film, given a famous shout out in Paul Simon's 1973 song and used by countless photographers to document the late 20th century, won't be accepted for processing after Thursday.

Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kan., is the last company in the world developing Kodachrome film, and Thursday is the final day it's taking film. The last roll probably will be processed sometime next week, the company said.

Photographers had until noon Thursday to get their film into the lab, according to the company, and people from all over the world rushed in their final rolls. One woman flew in from England to drop off film in-person, and Dwayne's received 500 packages from FedEx and 18 bags from the Post Office, almost all containing Kodachrome.

"I'm very surprised and maybe a little bit in shock," said Grant Steinle, vice president of operations for Dwayne's Photo and son of owner Dwayne Steinle. "It was really an icon of photography."

The photo lab even had special Kodak-yellow t-shirts printed up to mark the occasion, declaring, "The best slide and movie film in history is now officially retired."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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