The story of Dr. Athelston Spilhaus, a futurist who predicted climate change in the early 1960s, unfolds in this fascinating documentary by Chad Freidrichs (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, DFF34).
Spilhaus envisioned a solution to population growth and pollution in the form of an experimental city free of urban blight. Ahead of his time, he proposed a domed metropolis that would eliminate the internal combustion engine, recycle waste and even utilize electronic mail. His project gained support from key public figures such as Hubert Humphrey, Buckminster Fuller and Otto Silha, publisher of the Minnesota Star Tribune. When NASA and the US military got on board, Spilhaus prepared to turn his dream into reality, selecting a site in rural Minnesota for construction. But by the late 1970s, a critical mass of circumstances—including local resistance, budgetary concerns and the aftermath of the Vietnam War—thwarted implementation of his revolutionary plan.
With a wealth of archival footage—from tape recordings of steering-committee meetings and newspaper clippings to Spilhaus’s own drawings—Friedrichs recreates the extraordinary journey of a man some called the 20th-century da Vinci in his efforts to save the environment.
Producer: Chad Freidrichs, Jaime Freidrichs, Brian Woodman | Editor: Chad Freidrichs | Cinematographer: Nathan Truesdell, Chad Freidrichs