Wild Ducks Review: Davis Guggenheim’s IBM Short Reveals Genius

by Maggie Lange
June 22, 2011 8:37 AM
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From Davis Guggenheim, the director of Waiting for Superman and the Oscar-winning doc An Inconvenient Truth, comes the fifteen-minute documentary Wild Ducks, which debuted last week on IBM's YouTube channel. The latest IBM Centennial doc focuses on four IBM clients who defied conventional thinking to develop innovative solutions to intimidating problems. Each of the four slices boasts strong visuals that emphasize the particular genius and creativity of the four profiled clients.


The doc begins with Howard Yana Shapiro, who helped to solve the cacao bean crisis that harmed both an indigenous population in Brazil as well as large chocolate companies. Shapiro’s mathematical mind is revealed (much like A Beautiful Mind) by mathematical equations floating outside a car window as he strives to solve Brazil's agriculture crisis.

Wild Ducks also profiles Carolyn McGregor, who innovated technology for neonatal care; Sunil Mittal, an entrepreneur who brought cell-phones to India; and Ahmad Behroozian, who manages the safety of vehicles in Dubai. In one stunning shot, Behroozian's frame is silhouetted by sparkling views of the rapidly growing city.

The four stories are punctuated by a soft, pastel animation of Kierkegaard’s fable Wild Ducks—something that Thomas Watson Jr., the chairman and son of IBM founder, recounted to his employees to encourage originality. The slow allegory does not quite fit with the profiles of the creative thinkers. This group of four solved environmental, urban, medical, and technology problems with an urgency and energy that director Guggenheim brings across in each of their stories.

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