Cicada Time

A new father returns to his native Princeton, New Jersey with his one-year-old daughter to experience the Brood X periodical cicadas who were also legion the year he turned one. He discovers that the appearance of these insects every 17 years presents a curious way to mark life-cycle milestones and measure the passage of time. Writer Ross Kenneth Urken, the father, teams up with filmmaker Eli Obus, his childhood friend, to chronicle this journey and capture the ephemeral beauty of these charismatic and cacophonous bugs, the ones immortalized by Bob Dylan and now implanted in the hearts of the next generation.

  • Eli Matthew Obus
  • Ross Kenneth Urken
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    Wildlife, Environmental
  • Runtime:
    4 minutes 34 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 22, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Princeton Environmental Film Festival
    Princeton, New Jersey
    United States
    October 12, 2021
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Colorado Environmental Film Festival
    United States
    Colorado Premiere
  • Tokyo International Short Film Festival

  • Biophilia International Film Festival

  • Tulum World Environment Film Festival

    Jury's Award Short Film, Human Stories Short Film
Director Biography - Eli Matthew Obus

Eli Obus grew up in Princeton, New Jersey and studied film at NYU.

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Director Statement

The striking sights and sounds of the Brood X cicadas were forever burned into my mind back in 2004, when they nearly drowned out my high school graduation ceremony. Their buzzes can reach over 100 decibels and are overwhelming at peak volume, but also soothing and hypnotic in a way. I knew I had to capture these cicadas on video in 2021 so I could relive their presence before their return in 2038. My childhood friend Ross Kenneth Urken narrates the film, expressing what effect this force of nature can have on us as humans -- reflecting on time, cycles, rebirth, and the ephemeral vs. eternal.