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The Arc of Oblivion

Ian Cheney 2024

The Arc of Oblivion follows an unexpected search for an answer to a deeply existential question. Set against the backdrop of the filmmaker’s quixotic quest to build an ark in a field in Maine, the film heads far afield — to salt mines in the Alps, fjords in the Arctic, and ancient libraries in the Sahara — to illuminate the strange world of archives, record-keeping, and memory.
Playfully weaving stop-motion animation, spellbinding cinematography and fascinating interviews from the director’s inner circle and experts in the fields of science, culture and art – including documentarians Werner Herzog and Kirsten Johnson – THE ARC OF OBLIVION reveals how nature inspires the human drive behind filmmaking.


  • The New York Times
    CRITIC’S PICK: A documentary about building an ark turns into a funny, thoughtful rumination on the nature of human preservation.
    Alissa Wilkinson
    Most engaging and inspirational.
    Matt Zoller Seitz
  • The Film Stage
    The Arc of Oblivion is a Personal Exploration of Documenting Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. Fascinating. A sweeping, often playful Odyssey.
    John Fink
    Compelling and intelligent... A very humanistic film.
    Alex Billington
  • Film Threat
    Deeply philosophical, poignant, and profound.
    Rob Rector
  • Screen International
    Magical. Charming. A likeably offbeat and disarmingly self-aware.
    Neil Young
  • In Review Online
    Its embrace of the unknown is liberating, and leaves viewers space to draw their own conclusions.
    Emily Dugranrut
  • Reel News Daily
    Clever, thoughtful, curious. THE ARC OF OBLIVION is here to blow your mind. A fascinating rumination on history, memories, and sentimentality.
    Liz Whittemore

Festival Participation

  • SXSW - 2023
  • CPH:DOX - 2023
  • Stockholm Film Festival - 2023
    Nominee Bronze Horse Best Documentary
  • Bergen International Film Festival - 2023
    Nominee Gullugen Award
  • Golden Trailer Awards - 2023
    Nominee Golden Trailer Award - Best Independent Trailer
  • Cinema Eye Honors Awards, US - 2024
    Nominee Cinema Eye Honors Award - Outstanding Visual Design

Additional Materials

Distribution Company

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