2021 Film Programme
OPENING NIGHT GALA
Wochiigii lo End of the Peace
Co-presented by WIFT
The summer of 2021 is destined to be remembered as a time of environmental devastation and of sombre commemoration for Indigenous communities across Canada. Both of those themes, and the inextricable links between them, are at the forefront of the urgent and deeply compelling documentary Wochiigii lo: End of the Peace. Shot over five years by Haida filmmaker Heather Hatch, this is a stirring chronicle of resistance and environmental stewardship, pitting First Nations people against the British Columbia government. At issue is the ongoing construction of Site C, a multi-billion-dollar mega-dam along the province’s Peace River. If completed, the project will flood thousands of acres of agricultural land, threaten critical habitat, and endanger a way of life that has been sustainably practiced for millennia—even as official assessments suggest the dam’s potential benefits are difficult to discern. Following key representatives of the West Moberly First Nation as they seek to enforce their treaty rights in opposition to the project, Wochiigii lo: End of the Peace celebrates Indigenous resilience while casting further doubt on settler governments’ supposed commitments to reconciliation.
Climate change played an all-important role in Denmark’s 2019 general election. Citizens from across the country took to the streets to demonstrate for a green and sustainable future, and climate became the most talked-about topic of the election campaign. The people of Denmark had made their views clear: an emergency situation requires an emergency-level response. But are the politicians they elected ready to meet the moment? 70/30 takes its title from the incoming governments’ world-leading climate targets, to see a 70% decrease in national carbon emissions by the year 2030. With remarkable behind-the-scenes access to Denmark’s halls of power, director Phie Ambo follows the key officials responsible for advancing these bold policies, as well as a group of young activists maintaining the pressure to keep them accountable. Can a system of government based on short-term election cycles truly hope to tackle an issue whose most severe impacts will fall on future generations? Or will the practicalities of parliamentary democracy inevitably result in disappointing compromise? As 70/30 demonstrates, Denmark’s example could yet offer precious hope.
Beyond Zero tells the story of visionary CEO Ray Anderson, who after a life changing epiphany, embarks on a high-stakes quest to eliminate all negative impacts from his industrial company by 2020. His company Interface, specializing in carpets and tiles, must overcome deep skepticism from within its corporate culture and the company’s shareholders to ignite a new industrial revolution. The company’s transformation offers an inspiration for how business can embrace sustainability and reverse climate change. In a time when corporations have amplified the negative traits of capitalism in search of profit, Ray Anderson offers a unique model for corporate leadership that rewrites the purpose of private enterprise, challenging his company to have zero negative impact on the environment when few companies have been accountable to sustainable practices.
The Southern Resident Orca population of the Pacific Northwest is facing extinction due to a multitude of reasons, including declining salmon stocks, climate change, dams, increasing vessel traffic, pipelines and pollutants. For two young female filmmakers, this crisis sparks a stunning journey across the Pacific Northwest, joining activists, scientists and Indigenous leaders, to uncover corruption and stop injustice before it’s too late. In Coextinction, directors Gloria Pancrazi and Elena Jean draw on their personal fascination of the iconic orca to show its interconnectedness between its natural ecology and the human environment. They wish to show that our choices have consequences, and that perhaps the orcas are trying to warn us.
From the Wild Sea
From the Wild Sea is a poetic documentary that looks at the consequences of mankind’s industrial impact on marine wildlife, looking at the complex collision between human and nature. Oscillating between the perspective of humans and animals around the coastal region of the British Isles, the film follows the efforts of field scientists, veterinarians and a volunteer marine animal rescue and rehabilitation crew. Their mission is to rescue marine mammals from life-threatening elements that challenge their existence, from oil and debris to violent weather fuelled by climate change. Director Robin Petré creates an intimate visual experience that follows the animals through rehabilitation, exploring how we are all connected in an immense, nuanced system stretching far beyond the human race.
High Tide Don’t Hide
In 2019, the School Strike for Climate movement galvanized young people around the globe, spurring a massive mobilization in support of urgent environmental action. The youth of New Zealand were no exception, and a group of filmmakers called The Rebel Film Collective were on hand to document the origins of one of the largest strikes in the nation’s history. The result is High Tide Don’t Hide, an intimate portrait of a community of teen activists as they undergo a collective political coming of age. Among their challenges: confronting the climate denialism of a small town mayor whose citizens are already contending with rising sea levels; devising direct actions that will capture national attention while adhering to nonviolent principles; and coming to terms with their own white privilege to ensure that Māori voices aren’t marginalized within the movement. The learning curve is steep, and threatens to derail their efforts on more than one occasion. But their ultimate resilience and determination are inspiring to witness, offering an example that elder generations would do well to follow.
Inhabitants: An Indigenous Perspective
For millennia, Indigenous communities across Turtle Island have successfully stewarded and shaped their landscapes, raising bountiful harvests in arid conditions and protecting against wildfires by undertaking deliberate, controlled burns. But centuries of colonization have disrupted their ability to maintain traditional land management practices, even as climate change has rendered those practices more critical than ever before. Inhabitants: An Indigenous Perspective documents five such communities, from Montana, Arizona, California and Hawaii, detailing the traditional methods that have been transmitted and preserved across generations. In the desert, along coastlines, or in forests, mountains, and prairies, Indigenous people are restoring their ancient relationships to the land, leading by time-tested example. As the climate crisis grows ever more critical, and as utopian technologies continue to prove elusive, Inhabitants demonstrates that some of humanity’s oldest wisdoms can still produce miraculous results, which may yet prove instrumental to securing our future.
Intrecci Etici: The revolution of sustainable fashion in Italy
For all the glamour associated with the global fashion industry, its environmental impacts make for grim reading. Simply put, it’s one of the world’s chief polluters, responsible for 20% of global water waste and 10% of carbon dioxide emissions, while some 85% of the industry’s products are ultimately destined for landfills. That’s to say nothing of the exploitative conditions exacerbated by fast fashion, a segment of the market notorious for unfair wages and unregulated, often hazardous manufacturing conditions. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Intricci Etici is the story of a burgeoning revolution in Italy’s fashion industry that could be the blueprint for a broader shift toward more just and sustainable practices. Profiling designers who deal exclusively with natural fibres and fabrics, manufacturers who produce only to order, and upcyclers who transform used pieces into chic new garments, filmmakers Lucia Mauri and Lorenzo Malavolta reveal a cohort of creators who’ve made concrete commitments to ethics and sustainability. And if consumers are willing to vote with their wallets, their methods could yet transform the industry worldwide.
Monopoly of Violence
When is it legitimate for a democratic government to enact force against its own people? This is the central query posed by David Dufresne’s The Monopoly of Violence, an absorbing, shocking, and hugely timely documentary that interrogates the just limits state police powers. During the relative political stability of recent decades, that question may have seemed academic to some, but today—as protests against climate change, racial injustice, economic inequality, and pandemic restrictions roil in the streets—it has assumed great urgency, with literal life and death stakes. In his pursuit of an answer, Dufresne presents raw and sometimes graphic footage of clashes between police and protestors alongside compelling interviews with academics, police officers, and victims of police assault. The immediate context for Dufresne’s deeply thought-provoking film is France’s “yellow vest” movement, but its relevance, like the police violence it documents, is wide-ranging, equally applicable to pipeline protests in British Columbia, or efforts to prevent the clearing of encampments from Toronto parks.
To local fishermen in southwestern Madagascar, Andaboy is a sacred beach that the ancestors say should be left untouched. Locals depend on the economy around fishing, from the fish they catch to building the canoes. Their coastal way of life is under threat from Chinese trawlers who are decimating fish stocks and by an Australian company, Base Toliara, who is proposing to build a harbour that will displace 8000 residents. Locals are deeply concerned about protecting their way of life from encroaching resource extractive projects in the area. Director Nantenaina Lova uses a patient and cinematic, observational approach to document the daily lives of the fisherman, their music, culture and fishing traditions. These fishermen courageously organize to fight against Base Tolinara and the sale of their land. In Morning Star, a number of activists clearly and passionately express their objections to the sale of their land to foreign companies.
Nuhu Yãg Mu Yõg Hãm: This Is Our Land!
“In the past, when white people didn’t exist, we used to hunt with our yãmĩyxop spirits. The whites came, cut down the trees, dried up the rivers and scared the animals away. Today, our tall trees are over, the whites surrounded us and our lands are tiny. But our yãmĩyxop are very strong and taught us the stories and chants from our ancients who walked around here.” Isael Maxakali and Sueli Maxakali are Indigenous leaders, educators, artists and filmmakers of the Brazilian Tikmũ’ũn people. Their work embodies their people’s traditional practices and fight for land. In This is Our Land, the Maxatalis and their collaborators combine multiple forms of filmmaking to create a personal film rooted in Indigenous tradition of the Tikmũ’ũn. The film acknowledges their Indigenous practices through the documentation of ritual, mythology and collective history, combined with interview and observational cinema that exposes the continued colonial violence that threatens their existence. From within the Indigenous gaze, the Tikmũ’ũn confront the exploitation of their land and demand justice for their people.
In 2019, the Canadian government revised immigration laws, allowing asylum seekers to secure work permits while awaiting the adjudication of their refugee claims. The new policy has had a transformative impact on the country’s manual labour market, especially in its slaughterhouses and meat processing plants. In this artful and insightful observational documentary from directors Hubert Caron-Guay and Serge-Olivier Rondeau, viewers are introduced to a cast of recent arrivals from Mexico who are navigating both the asylum system and the recruitment processes of companies like Quebec’s Olymel foods. As we follow their yearlong efforts to lay the foundations of new lives, Resources subtly reveals the links of an industrial chain that binds people, animals, and plants alike. Transcending our tendency to consider humans separately from other lifeforms, the filmmakers instead invite us to ponder the shared precarity that comes with being classed as an input—whether explicitly or implicitly—in a system that prizes profit and maximal productivity above all else.
Can new technologies evolving from our rapidly changing digital era solve the major crises faced by our global society? More than ever, issues such as climate change and environmental catastrophe require answers that go beyond borders. SOLUTIONS takes a group of the world’s leading scientists and entrepreneurs from many disciplines including environment, economy, democracy, cyberspace, education, status of institutions and artificial technology, and asks them to work together to provide insight into solving the world’s most challenging problems. Their innovative ideas and vision provide an inspiring and optimistic pathway into the future.
The Gig is Up
The platform economy has transformed the everyday consumer experience and has swiftly become an essential part of daily life by building an on-demand society. In THE GIG IS UP, director Shannon Walsh uncovers the real costs of the platform economy through the lives of workers from around the world for companies including Uber, Amazon and Deliveroo. From delivering food and driving ride shares to tagging images for AI, millions of people around the world are finding work task by task online. What is the experience of the people who power this tech revolution in the real world? Using a cinema vérité approach, THE GIG IS UP profiles a range of workers from different parts of the world, looking at their common experiences. Motivated by personal freedom and limited job prospects, this shadow workforce is often exposed to dangerous and economically precarious conditions. THE GIG IS UP reveals how technology is masking a deeply human consequence of our modern conveniences.
The Golden Wolf of Balolé
In the heart of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, 2,500 people of all ages work in the dire conditions of a quarry. Marginalized from a society that regards them as invisible, they toil in Sisyphian conditions for very little wages. Inspired in response to a revolution against the President’s attempt to amend the constitution, these workers become empowered to change their destiny. The miners envision a better future for themselves, driven by hope and solidarity, trying to negotiate better salaries and freeing themselves from intermediaries. In the Golden Wolf of Balolé, director Aïcha Chloé Boro creates a visually stunning and deeply humanistic portrait of workers that restores their visibility and dignity with humour and tenderness.
YOUTH v GOV
Given the threats to life and liberty posed by the climate emergency, it stands to reason that the United States Constitution should offer Americans some safeguard against this accelerating menace. This, broadly, is the argument of the plaintiffs in Youth Vs. Gov, 21 brave and outspoken young claimants (initially aged eight to 19) who have brought suit against one of the world’s most powerful governments. The groundbreaking claim alleges that successive administrations have acted willfully over more than half a century to create and exacerbate our ongoing climate crisis by, for example, working to incentivize and subsidize fossil fuel industries despite abundant knowledge of the climate harms these industries cause. Making her feature debut, director Christi Cooper follows the case on a rollercoaster 4-year journey through the U.S. court system. But these young litigants aren’t merely fighting for America’s future. Their efforts have already inspired similar legal actions around the world, including here in Canada.
CLOSING NIGHT LIVE STREAM
Sunday, October 24, 2021 at 7pm ET followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Nadine Pequeneza
Last of the Right Whales
AVAILABLE IN ONTARIO ONLY
A live Q&A will take place after the screening with Director/Producer Nadine Pequeneza and composer Deanna H. Choi
Co-presented by the ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM’S GREAT WHALES: UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
ONTARIO PREMIERE – These gentle giants no longer die of natural causes. Instead, they are run over by ships or suffer lethal injuries from fishing gear. Over the past decade they’ve been dying at a rate of 24 per year. This staggering death toll is fueling a movement to save the first great whale to face extinction. Last of the Right Whales is the story of a disparate group of people – a wildlife photographer, a marine biologist, a whale rescuer, and a crab fisher – united in their cause to save the North Atlantic right whale. By joining forces these formidable allies are determined to stop the world’s first great whale extinction. The film combines the 4K cinematography of a blue-chip nature film with the character-driven, vérité storytelling of a high-stakes drama. With unprecedented access to film the migration of the North Atlantic right whale from their calving ground off the coast of Florida to their new feeding area in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, this feature documentary brings a message of hope about the most at-risk, great whale on the planet.
NADINE PEQUENEZA Producer/Director
Nadine Pequeneza is an award-winning Producer/Director/Writer best known for her character-driven films offering unique access to stories about a wide range of topics from criminal justice, to global finance, to the animal conservation. With more than 15 years international experience, she has garnered multiple awards and nominations, including; a Canadian Screen Award for Best Writing in a Documentary Program, nine CSA and Gemini nominations, Gold and Silver Hugos from the Chicago International Film Festival and a Silver Gavel Award honourable mention from the American Bar Association. Her films have screened at festivals around the world from Toronto, to Milan, to Auckland, to Sichuan, China.
DEANNA H. CHOI Soundtrack Composer
Deanna H. Choi (she/her) composes music for films & television, and designs sonic environments for live performance and installations. Formerly a researcher in music cognition, she applies scientific findings into her composition and sound design. In 2021 she served as one of the Slaight Music Residents for the Canadian Film Centre. She teaches sound design at the National Theatre School of Canada and York University. She won the 2020 Pauline McGibbon Award, and was nominated for the Louis Applebaum Composer’s Award and a Robert Merritt Award. She is a proud member of ADC/IATSE, the SCGC, and SOCAN.
Indigenous Experiences Shorts Program
Directors: Daniel Fradin, Kyle Rosenbluth
Director: Amar Chebib
Te Wao Nui
Director: Ngāriki Ngatae
Director: Alisi Telengut
Walking With Plants
Directors: Trevor Dixon Bennett, Leigh Joseph
The Water Walker
Director: James Burns
Arctic Summer is a poetic meditation on Tuktoyaktuk (Tuk), an Indigenous community in the Arctic and one of the northernmost towns in the world. The film captures Tuk during one of the last summers before climate change forced Tuk’s coastal population to relocate to more habitable land.
Joe Buffalo is an Indigenous skateboard legend. He’s also a survivor of Canada’s notorious Indian Residential School system. Following a traumatic childhood and decades of addiction, Joe must face his inner demons to realize his dream of turning pro.
In Te Wao Nui, Māori healer Tohe Ashby is looking for answers to a disease threatening to destroy Aotearoa’s last remaining Kauri trees with the ancient knowledge of the first nations of Aotearoa – mātauranga Māori. Discover the roots of indigenous medicine in a final bid to save the last of these great trees. E ara! Ka tangi te Kauri.
The Fourfold is based on the ancient shamanic rituals and animistic beliefs in Mongolia and Siberia, an exploration of the indigenous worldview and wisdom. With hand-crafted imagery, a testament of reclaiming animism for planetary health and non-human materialities.
The Water Walker shares the story of teenaged climate activist Autumn Peltier, who is Anishinaabe-kwe, from Wikwemikoong First Nation (Manitoulin Island, Ontario), tracing the roots, passion and perseverance of young Autumn. Autumn is an influential figure in the Indigenous and global youth-led environmental movement.
Walking with Plants follows Styawat/Leigh Joseph, a Sḵwxw̱ú7mesh Nation ethnobotanist. As she navigates walking between academic and cultural worlds, she contemplates her relationship with plants and their role as teachers. On the land where her ancestors have harvested since time beyond memory, her life purpose is awakened.
Encounters in the Natural World Shorts Program
A River in Winter
Director: Félix Lamarche
Galapagos: Secrets of the Ocean Giants
Director: Jeffrey Garriock
Director: Edward Columbia
Directors: Kaitlyn Schwalje, Alexander Lewis
The Wilderness Within
Director: Jason van Bruggen
Directors: Sarah Salem, Marie-Chloé Racine
Directors: Daniel J Pierce
In A River in Winter, director Félix Lamarche questions our relationship with the St. Lawrence River during the winter. Aboard the Amundsen, a Canadian coast guard icebreaker, we follow passionate scientists who explore the mysteries of an inaccessible nature.
Galapagos: Secrets of the Ocean Giants follows a group of scientists working to understand the movements of the world’s largest fish – the whale shark. Without understanding their breeding and migrations, we cannot hope to protect them. The scientists of the Galapagos Whale Shark Project head north to Darwin Island to uncover the secrets of these ocean giants.
Little Fish is about questioning our well-worn patterns of behavior. Renowned chef and environmentalist Bun Lai decides to close his acclaimed restaurant in order to pursue a new recipe for life. Shot on 16mm with unique access to a pioneer of sustainable cooking, this is a visually arresting culinary journey that is not just about food.
Snowy has lived an isolated life in the family basement for the past 10+ years with minimal sunlight and no companionship other than that of his primary caretaker, Uncle Larry. This short documentary is both an investigation into animal happiness and an intervention to improve one turtle’s life.
The Wilderness Within is a realist’s assessment of the declining health of urban wilderness and our fleeting opportunity to restore it. This is the story of one man’s obsessive quest to re-wild Toronto’s ravines by bringing the offspring of ecological elders, or mother trees, back to their natural homes.
Vanishing Point tackles the possible disappearance of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine resulting from the transformation of dunes and cliffs caused by frequent storms and climate change, through the voices of young islanders.
Water Logged follows Grand Forks resident Jennifer Houghton through her harrowing experience dealing with repeated spring floods and connects the dots between climate breakdown, clear-cutting and flooding. In Southern British Columbia, the City of Grand Forks has been inundated by monstrous spring floods three times in the past four years.
Taking Action Shorts Program
Humanity Has Not Yet Failed
Directors: Norma V. Toraya (aka Crankbunny), Jared P. Scott
Director: Ryan Mekenian
The Battle of Denham Ford
Director: Bradley, Bradley
They Keep Quiet So We Make Noise
Directors: Marlena Skrobe
Director: Colin Scheyen
Humanity Has Not Yet Failed highlights climate activist Greta Thunberg and juxtaposes the absurdity of political inaction with the straightforward high-stakes of the climate emergency.
Spokespeople were the Los Angeles natives living in the early 1900’s, when bicycles and streetcars shared the road as our primary modes of transportation. But the arrival of the freeway effectively wiped them out. Today, a collective of cycling communities fight for protected bike lanes and road safety; determined to bring a new era of mobility justice to the city.
The Battle of Denham Ford tells the story of attempts by HS2 contractors to fell a tree that overhung their compound. A protest camp immediately abuts the compound, and the protestors had got wind of the plan, and installed a climber in the aforementioned tree. As the day unfolds, the film documents a range of private security forces, with support from the police and emergency services, trying to regain possession of the tree.
They Keep Quiet So We Make Noise follows two activists in the Environmental Protection Agency of Kuala Langat, Pua Lay Peng and CK Lee, during a night-drive searching for illegal recycling facilities while learning about their fight against the tide of plastic waste being sent to Malaysia from overseas.
In Toxic Neighbour, Eugene Bourgeois had no concerns about nuclear energy when he built his farm next door to the world’s largest nuclear facility in 1974. Over that time, he and his wife Ann ran a successful wool business and really believed they had found paradise. However, over the next few decades, Eugene, his family, and his sheep flock were frequently exposed to hydrogen sulfide, a deadly nerve gas from the nuclear plant.
Diverse Eco Visions Shorts Program
Ain’t Your Mama’s Heat Wave
Director: Elijah Karriem
Director: Lavado Stubbs
Rise From The Cape Flats
Director: Shamier Magmoet
Directors: John Fiege
We Have Reached The Moment
Directors: Christi Cooper, Liz Smith
Ain’t Your Mama’s Heat Wave is a stand up comedy special from the frontlines of the climate crisis. It’s filmed in the St. Paul’s district of Norfolk, VA, a Black public housing community that is being redeveloped because of climate flooding, sea level rise, and a legacy of racist urban policies. The city of Norfolk, which is below sea level and sinking, is grappling with the climate crisis and racial injustice. Four Black millennial stand-up comedians, hailing from Virginia Beach, Atlanta, Chicago, and Ohio, take the stage to “make the climate crisis funny” in front of a St. Paul’s audience who are at risk for a Hurricane Katrina-like disaster and who are currently being displaced from their homes.
Antonese tells guests every day how to access a nearby beach that is one of the most beautiful in all The Bahamas. Yet, she has never been herself. This is not an uncommon scenario for many Bahamians—that a history of colonialism, servitude, and the transatlantic slave trade has created barriers to their most accessible resource, the ocean.
Rise From the Cape Flats is about a man who lives in one of the most dangerous places in the world. After one life changing encounter upon experiencing the ocean, he now does everything in his power to advocate for positive change within his community through education and affording the youth to experience the ocean, becoming advocates and protectors.
Shoulders Deep translates the experience of Aniya Wingate’s displacement through dance, poetry, and performance. A radiant and talented 17-year-old African American dancer from Houston, Aniya was displaced from her home for half a year by Hurricane Harvey. Love is central to Aniya’s journey of recovery, and her movement becomes the physical expression of that love.
We Have Reached the Moment follows Vic’s journey as he tries to explain to his climate-denying father the impacts of the climate crisis on their own disenfranchised communities. Adding to this deeply emotional challenge is Vic’s concurrent gender transition, shifting their relationship from father-daughter to father-son, for which there is no instructional manual. Vic ultimately, like any son or daughter, desires unconditional acceptance, love, and support from his parent… but how do we connect with loved ones when their belief systems undermine our very identity and right to a healthy future?
2021 Virtual Festival Pass… $35
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Shorts Program Ticket… $12