25 minutes





An ecologist finds an apt metaphor for healing in the rainforests she studies

A towering figure in rainforest biology, the US ecologist Nalini Nadkarni made a name for herself via pioneering studies born of treetop climbs. These achievements, combined with her effervescent personality and community activism, have also made her a celebrated science communicator – indeed, the only ecologist to have a Barbie doll created in their likeness. However, as Between Earth & Sky (2023) documents, her achievements have been hard-earned, with roots in a traumatic childhood.

In his rich character study, the US director Andrew Nadkarni, who is Nalini Nadkarni’s nephew, combines archival and contemporary footage to explore his aunt’s past, present and future as her potential retirement looms. With the narrative framed around a 2015 climbing accident in which Nadkarni nearly died, the film finds her still recovering seven years later. Feeling stuck between incarnations of herself, she revisits her past in an attempt to better understand her life’s path, and perhaps even heal. Pairing sweeping shots with intimate storytelling, the film finds an apt metaphor for Nadkarni in the lifeforms she studies, which, appearing indestructible at first glance, must be ceaselessly adaptive to survive.

Director: Andrew Nadkarni

Producer: Swetha Regunathan, Katie Schiller

Website: Between Earth & Sky