ECO-HEROES

Presented each year at the Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival to both Canadian and International individuals whose work has had significant impact on raising awareness of environmental issues through artistic expression.

Planet in Focus Eco-Hero Awards are generously sponsored by: 

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DR. ROBERTA BONDAR

2017 Canadian Eco-Hero

The world’s first neurologist in space, Dr. Roberta Bondar is globally recognized for her pioneering contribution to space medicine research. Aboard the Discovery mission STS- 42, the First International Microgravity Laboratory in 1992, she conducted over 40 investigations from 13 countries.

For more than 12 years at NASA, Dr. Bondar headed an international research team, continuing to find new connections between astronauts recovering from the microgravity of space and neurological illnesses here on Earth. Her techniques have been used in clinical studies at the B. I. Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School and at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Bondar served two terms as Chancellor of Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario.

Dr. Bondar has also earned a reputation as a leading speaker and consultant within the medical and scientific communities, and in the field of corporate social responsibility and care for the Earth’s environment. She co-founded The Roberta Bondar Foundation, a not for profit charitable organization, to reconnect us to the natural environment. The Foundation has school and summer camp programs to help kids connect to and enjoy the natural world around them. Read More

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RON FINLEY

2017 International Eco-Hero

Armed with a shovel, some soil and seeds, Ron Finley has come to be known as the “Gangsta Gardener” and his unexpected tactics have made him one of L.A.’s most widely known artivists.

Frustrated by his community’s lack of access to fresh, organic food, Finley inadvertently started a revolution when he turned the parkway in front of his South Central L.A. home into an edible garden in 2010. When the city cited him for his plantings, Finley started a bureaucratic battle, gathering signatures and working with local officials until city ordinances were altered to include edibles.

Ron’s goal was simple; bring healthy food to an area where there was none. Ron decided he did not want to live in a food prison anymore so he began to plant his own food. This simple logic inspired Ron’s mission to turn food prisons into food forests.

With donated tools, saplings and seeds, he organized volunteers and led “dig-ins” citywide, planting edible gardens in resident parkways and yards, schools and homeless shelters. Eventually Finley’s work earned him an invite to the annual TED conference, an event where innovators share their ideas through storytelling. Read More

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JONAH BRYSON

2017 Rob Stewart Youth Eco-Hero

Born and raised in southern France, Jonah Bryson fell in love with exploring all the Mediterranean Sea had to offer, and deeply connected with the underwater world.

At the early age of 12, Jonah decided to undertake his first feature film, A Sweet Spot in Time. This co-production with undersea explorer and producer Fabien Cousteau features world-renowned personalities including Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, social media phenomenon Prince Ea, and National Geographic oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle. This environmental film is a call to action for the people of today to fix the mistakes of humanity’s past and save the future of tomorrow’s children. It is set for release in 2017.

After receiving an Environmental Filmmaking award sponsored by Prince Albert II Of Monaco at the age of 14, Jonah co-directed The Fight for Bala with Sharkwater director Rob Stewart. It was released with The Huffington Post with support from National Geographic and The Globe And Mail. Following the release of the film, he was called ‘The whiz kid at the forefront of filmmaking in service of the preservation of the planet’ by National Geographic’s Scott Wallace. Read More

In Memory of Rob Stewart, 2014 International Eco-Hero

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The Planet in Focus staff and board are heartbroken at the news of losing such a young and incredible force. We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his friends and family during this difficult time. Rob was not only a friend of the festival, but a worthy Eco-Hero, honoured at the Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival where both SHARKWATER and REVOLUTION have screened in the past.

Help Rob’s legacy live on by ensuring his latest film SHARKWATER: EXTINCTION is completed and shared with the world. Please donate through the PayPal link on the Official Sharkwater Website.

Make a Donation in Memory of Rob Stewart


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Alexandra Cousteau

2016 International Eco-Hero

A filmmaker, explorer, and globally recognized advocate on water issues, Alexandra Cousteau continues the work of her renowned grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau and her father Philippe Cousteau Sr. Read More

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David Suzuki

2016 Canadian Eco-Hero

David Suzuki, Co-Founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. He is renowned for his radio and television programs that explain the complexities of the natural sciences Read More

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Vandana Shiva

2015 International Eco Hero

Dr. Vandana Shiva trained as a Physicist at the University of Punjab, and completed her Ph.D. on the ‘Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory’ from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. Read More

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Amy Millan

2015 Canadian Eco-Hero

Amy joined the Canadian indie pop band Stars in 1999. Watching the political and environmental developments around seed, Amy decided to do something to address healthy food systems.  Read More

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Rob Stewart

2014 International Eco Hero

Rob Stewart’s SHARKWATER (2007) is one of the rare environmental films that reaches the consciousness of audiences world-wide and in response, a change in behavior occurs. Read More

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Tzeporah Berman

2014 Canadian Eco-Hero

Tzeporah Berman’s This Crazy Time: Living Our Environmental Change, details the struggles/ challenges she has faced in the environmental movement over the past two decades. Read More

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Col. Chris Hadfield

2013 International Eco Hero

Former Commander of the International Space Station, Col. Hadfield’s scientific and technical accomplishments in outer space focused world attention on the importance of the space program…,Read More

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 Zacharias Kunuk

2013 Canadian Eco-Hero

Zacharias Kunuk’s internationally acclaimed films that include; Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, The Journals of Knud Ramussen, and Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change, give voice to the Inuit People’s perspective…Read More

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James Balog

2012 International Eco Hero

Founder & Director, Extreme Ice Survey / Founder, Earth Vision Trust For three decades, James Balog has been a leader in photographing and interpreting the natural environment. Read More

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Jennifer Baichwal

2012 Canadian Eco-Hero

Jennifer was born in Montréal and grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. She studied philosophy and theology at McGill University and received an M.A. in 1994, supported by a McGill Major Fellowship and a 2 year FCAR Master’s Scholarship.Read More

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Ric O’Barry

2011 International Eco Hero

Planet in Focus is proud to announce our 2011 International Eco Hero, Richard O’Barry for his work protecting dolphins and marine animals worldwide. Read More

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Kevin McMahon

2011 Canadian Eco-Hero

Kevin McMahon began his career as a newspaper journalist at the St. Catharines Standard before shifting his focus to documentary film in the mid-1980s. His films have been described as “visually stunning…Read More

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Robert Bateman

2010 International Eco Hero

Robert has been a keen artist and naturalist from his early days. He has always painted wildlife and nature, beginning with a representational style, moving through impressionism and cubism to abstract expressionism. Read More

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Margaret Atwood

2010 Canadian Eco-Hero

A varied and prolific writer, Margaret Atwood is one of Canada’s major contemporary authors. Atwood’s writing is noted for its careful craftsmanship and precision of language which… Read More

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Graeme Gibson

2010 Canadian Eco-Hero

Educated at the University of Western Ontario, Graeme Gibson taught at the Ryerson Institute of Technology, later Ryerson University, from 1961-69. He later served as writer-in-residence at the University of Waterloo and…Read More

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Maude Barlow

2009 International Eco Hero

Maude is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She is a board member of the San Francisco–based International…Read More

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Ian Clifford

2009 Canadian Eco-Hero

Ian Clifford is the founder and CEO of ZENN Motor Company, a Toronto-based manufacturer of fully electric vehicles. He began his career as a photographer. Mentored by Ansel Adams… Title

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CBC’s The Nature of Things

2009 Industry Eco-Hero

Award-winning geneticist and broadcaster David Suzuki is the Foundation’s co-founder with Tara Cullis. He is familiar to audiences around the world as host of CBC TV’s…Read More

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Carlo Petrini

2008 International Eco Hero

This award is given to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and made a lasting contribution to environmental awareness, action and change on the international stage. Read More

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Wayne Roberts

2008 Canadian Eco-Hero

Roberts is a pioneer and trailblazer, as a leader of the Toronto Food Policy Council since 1999, he has steered the development of such landmark documents as Toronto’s Food Charter, the Food and Hunger Action Plan…. Read More

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Edward Burtynsky

2008 Industry Eco-Hero

This award is given to an artist who has made an outstanding and lasting contribution in environmental artistic expression in their collected body of work. Read More

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Robert Redford 

2007 International Eco Hero

Renowned as a screen based artist – an Oscar award winning actor, director, producer and champion of independent cinema – but it is our pleasure to honour   Mr. Redford…Read More

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Sheila Watt-Cloutier

2007 Canadian Eco-Hero

“I do nothing more than remind the world that the Arctic is not a barren land devoid of life but a rich and majestic land that has supported our resilient culture for millennia. Read More

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Caroline Underwood

2007 Industry Eco-Hero 

Caroline Underwood has produced, directed and written over twenty award winning programs for the CBC’s science series, The Nature of Things with David Suzuki…Read More

Filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin, is pictured in Toronto on Sept.12, 2002. There's an urgency to Alanis Obomsawin's politically charged work, so much so that the veteran filmmaker says she's had no choice but to take on five different projects more or less at the same time. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Dr. Alanis Obomsawin

2005 Industry Eco-Hero

Over the course of her remarkable and distinguished film career, Obomsawin, a member of the Abenaki Nation and the Order of Canada, has been telling the stories of Aboriginal peoples in Canada… Read More

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Frédéric Back

2004 Industry Eco-Hero

Frédéric Back, OC CQ (April 8, 1924 – December 24, 2013) was a Canadian artist and film director of short animated films. During a long career with Radio-Canada, he was nominated for four Academy Awards…Title