In 1982 monk-turned-film-director Godfrey Reggio released Koyaanisqatsi, a film that, despite being an experimental non-narrative documentary, was a surprise hit that went on to become one of the most successful documentaries of all time, even spawning two sequels (1988’s Powaqqatsi and 2002’s Naqoyqatsi, now collectively known as the Qatsi trilogy). The innovative ways that Reggio was able to convey meaning and hold viewers’ attention using only music, montage, and images—largely impressionistic footage of landscapes, cities, and crowds—created a new filmmaking grammar that had an immediate and profound influence on the culture of moving images. Whether the average moviegoer (or TV viewer, or web video-watcher) knows it or not, Godfrey Reggio essentially changed the way we watch moving images forever. Now, with the premiere of Visitors at the Toronto International Film Festival, his first new film in over a decade, he’s managed to top himself by creating a film that actually watches us back.
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