Artist and environmentalist Andy Goldsworthy sneezing pollen...
Artist and environmentalist Andy Goldsworthy sneezing pollen... Leaning into The Wind

Leaning into the Wind is the second documentary film—following Rivers and Tides—about artist and environmentalist Andy Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy is famously known for his temporal and site-specific installations made from natural materials. I will admit that a documentary about art is a hard-sell. But Goldsworthy’s work belongs on film the same way Planet Earth belongs in an IMAX theatre. Everything about it, from the opening credits to the final 10 minutes, is captivating. The scenery and sculptures are beautifully shot and every inch is scored with killer audio.

It opens with Goldsworthy admiring a clay floor in Brazil while a chaperone translates the process of laying it out. The scene shifts to construction crews and interns cutting tree limbs and pounding mud cakes in San Francisco, where Goldsworthy has incorporated the clay as the fundamental material in the installation shown. Leaning into the Wind follows a multitude of Goldsworthy’s work like this, from concept to process to physical creation—it isn’t particularly un-interesting, but it's also not what makes this worth watching.

Peppered throughout the documentary are vulnerable, self-conscious in-between moments like mini spontaneous performances. Goldsworthy taking a break from stone carving to lay his muddy hand among a flock of butterflies, Goldsworthy climbing through the top of a hedge, through a tree line, or blowing red petals into the wind—simple and cinematically beautiful. At one point, he walks silently over to a tree whilst on break from another project and shakes one of the branches, releasing a dusting of pollen. Then, from a wider angle, the same tree begins to shake, releasing pollen in a fluffy yellow cloud. Goldsworthy silently emerges from the branches and walks towards the camera with his head down, and then he sneezes. It is because of these moments that Leaning into the Wind is worth watching once… maybe even twice.

For more information about this and other films opening this weekend, visit Movie Times.