2022 Film Programme
CLOSING NIGHT: Into the Ice
Sunday, October 23 at the Paradise Theatre // 6:30pm
Into the Ice is a journey of discovery to the vast masses of ice and the secret of our future that the ice harbours. Director Lars Ostenfeld accompanies three of the world’s leading glaciologists on pioneering scientific expeditions to and into the Greenland ice sheet. Cool and hardworking Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, sensitive and politically engaged Jason Box, and daring and fearless Alun Hubbard are all working to collect new crucial data that can help us answer some key questions of our time: How fast is the ice melting? How quickly are sea levels rising? How much time do we have left to change the course of the Earth? As the scientists are caught in the dilemma of collecting new evidence to an inconvenient truth while people in power are not prepared to take action to prevent the earth from dying, the film brings us breathtaking images from a place that soon will be lost as we know it now. A documentary tale about science, nature and adventure.
OPENING NIGHT: Forest for the Trees
SOLD OUT – Thursday, October 13 at stackt market // 6pm
This visually and artistically unique documentary explores the physical and emotional aspects of a community of Canadian west coast tree planters. Deftly weaving together still photos and film footage, Rita Leistner, an award-winning photographer, photojournalist, filmmaker and erstwhile tree planter (who has been nominated for a 2022 Canadian Screen Award for Best Cinematography for her work in this film), depicts the contradictions in the experiences of the tree planters—the hardship and the healing; the solitude and the joy of belonging—creating an eloquent cinematic metaphor for the human condition. Alone with their thoughts, the planters describe for the camera how the work has helped them overcome a myriad of personal issues ranging from addiction and mental illness to self-doubt, heartbreak and grief. Finding common cause, self-knowledge and meaning in their formidable task, the tree planters restore themselves and each other in the process of restoring the environment.
Before They Fall
Conservation groups, First Nations communities and scientists come together in this timely, talented short film about how a decades-long battle to protect endangered old-growth forests in BC escalates at Fairy Creek (the last unprotected, intact valley on Southern Vancouver Island). This story explores the characters’ individual relationships with ancient forests and why it’s imperative that we collectively protect them. It touches on potential solutions, such as a transition away from old-growth logging and providing Indigenous sovereignty.
Beyond Extinction: Sinixt Resurgence
Saturday, October 15 at the Paradise Theatre // 3pm
Beyond Extinction traces Indigenous matriarchs who revive traditions and fight to save an ancient burial ground in BC’ Slocan Valley. Declared “extinct” by the Indian Act, the film documents their intimate living histories and their decades long struggle for recognition. It weaves together observational footage, contemporary interviews, oral histories, survival stories told by matriarchs, personal as well as public archives, to tell a story never told before. This documentary traces through generations to find out how the Indian Act, colonialism, residential schools, and borders led to the Canadian government declaring the Sinixt people to be “extinct”.
The live screening on Saturday, October 15th will be preceded by the short film NUISANCE BEAR (Canada, 14mins)
Bring Your Own Brigade
In early November 2018, raging wildfires killed 88 residents and destroyed tens of thousands of homes in the cities of Malibu and Paradise, two very different California communities. Bring Your Own Brigade captures the heroism and horror of that unfathomable disaster. The “Big Short” of wild fire, this character-driven revelatory investigation takes us on an eyewitness journey with firefighters, residents and experts to understand the causes of these hellish annual fires and how to survive them. Award-winning writer/director/narrator Lucy Walker discovers that the solution may have been here all along.
Eulogy for the Dead Sea
Saturday, October 15 at the Paradise Theatre // 7pm
Eulogy for the Dead Sea is a poetic experimental documentary chronicling the disappearance of the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea borders Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. It constitutes the lowest place on earth and is known for its therapeutic high-sodium and mineral-rich waters. Despite its name, the Dead Sea basin is a host to many wildlife species and the Jordan Valley in which it is situated enjoys a warm climate and fertile soil. Unfortunately, due to the diversion of water from the Jordan River and mass mineral extraction through evaporation pools, the Dead Sea’s water reduction currently measures at 1.3m annually. Through sites of existing and abandoned infrastructure, marking its current and former shores, the film seeks to unify inter-national conflicts through the lens of ecology.
Far Beyond the Pasturelands
Co-presented by Women in Film + Television Toronto
In a remote Himalayan region, the villagers of Maikot are preparing for the harvest of a mysterious aphrodisiac caterpillar-mushroom worth more than gold. Lalita, a young mother, had to let go of her dreams after getting married because of the social pressures of her community. As the whole village departs to the mountains, she joins the journey to the high-altitude pasturelands in hope of providing a better life for her family through the hazardous harvest of the rare mushroom. Set against the backdrop of stunning mountainous landscapes, the film presents an intimate and humane portrait of characters that put everything on the line for a chance to ascend to greener pastures. Will the harvest be good this year?
Due to distribution limitations, this screening will be geoblocked for Ontario residents only.
SNEAK PREVIEW – Friday, October 14 at the Paradise Theatre // 7pm
Fashion designer Amy Powney of cult label Mother of Pearl is a rising star in the London fashion scene. Raised off-the-grid in rural England by activist parents, Amy has always felt uneasy about the devastating environmental impact of her industry. When she wins the coveted Vogue Award for the Best Young Designer of the Year, which comes with a big cash prize, Amy decides to use the money to create a sustainable collection from field to finished garment, and transform her entire business. Over the following three years, her own personal revolution becomes the precursor of a much bigger, societal change.
Geographies of Solitude
LIVE ONLY – Sunday, October 16 at the Paradise Theatre // 7pm
Geographies of Solitude is an immersion into the rich ecosystem of Sable Island, guided by naturalist and environmentalist Zoe Lucas who has lived over 40 years on this remote sliver of land in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. Shot on 16mm and created using a scope of innovative eco-friendly filmmaking techniques, this feature-length experimental documentary is a playful and reverent collaboration with the natural world. Zoe leads us among wild horses, seals and bugs, through peaks, valleys, roots, sands, weathers, seasons and stars. The intangible is evoked with hidden sounds and vanishing light. Much like a field book, the film tracks its protagonist’s labor to collect, clean and document marine litter that persistently washes up on the island shores.
According to the FAO, the earth’s topsoil could vanish within 60 years, worn away by erosion. Aware that time is running out, a pair of market gardeners strive to implement nature’s fundamental principles in their fields in an attempt to forge a new alliance with all the living world. Their quest is guided by ancient and new-found knowledge that confirms the interdependence of all that lives, the result of millions of years of co-evolution.
LIVE ONLY – Sunday, October 16 at the Paradise Theatre // 3pm
In a sprawling mega city where the dangers of climate change are present not future, acclaimed filmmaker Rahul Jain shows a world on the brink. Told through striking images and eye-opening accounts from everyday citizens, Invisible Demons delivers a visceral and immersive journey through the stories of just a few of Delhi’s 30 million inhabitants fighting to survive. Invisible Demons offers a deeply experiential and new perspective on its subject: the clear and present climate reality. Jain engages the senses by directly stimulating our desire to live in a world with equitable access to clean air and water. Is it possible to imagine this future in Delhi, in India, or anywhere in the modern world?
Ranger is a story about the wilderness within us all. Set amongst Kenya’s Maasai community, an intimate and contemporary tale of self-discovery unfolds, as 12 women become East Africa’s first all-female anti-poaching unit. Upending the male-dominated reliance upon military-style training to make a wildlife ranger, Virginia, Liz, Momina and Damaris instead undergo a 6 month rite of passage, rooted in deep trauma-release and healing processes. Their journey triggers profound transformation, sending shockwaves through their communities. Ranger largely takes place in the middle of the Laikipia plateau, on the slopes of the snow-capped Mount Kenya. It is a place of warriors, cattle and goat-herding pastoralist tribes, horizons lined by acacia trees, plains roamed by giants. While it is a deeply human story, the film also pays homage to this precious place by letting the audience feel the natural symphony of rain, blistering heat, the thirst of land and animal alike, the crisp Laikipia night, the exhilaration and vulnerability of sleeping in the bush under the moon and stars.
Rebellion tells the compelling story of a group of unlikely allies who come together to confront the climate and ecological emergency. From the launch of Extinction Rebellion in 2018, we follow them as they navigate the highs and lows of crashing into the status quo – and each other. This is a film which captures the human drama of social change. As Alejandra says in the film, “There’s kids in mines as young as five, getting cobalt, so that we can have that solar panel. That’s the world that we live in right now and I don’t want to simply have the same world – but eco.” Rebellion also tells a story about the health of our democracy, as we witness moves to restrict the power of peaceful protest – including a government bill threatening 10 year jail sentences for those causing ‘serious annoyance or inconvenience.’ The moment of protest freedoms depicted in the film may soon be impossible.
The Fire Within
LIVE ONLY – Friday, October 14 at the Paradise // 9:30pm
A feature-length documentary by Werner Herzog about the legendary French volcanologists, Maurice and Katia Krafft. Mt. Unzen, Kyushu, Japan. At 3:18pm, on June 3rd 1991, a pyroclastic flow – a cloud of superheated gases and particles – descended at over 100mph from the peak of the volcano, consuming everything in its path. It instantly killed Katia and Maurice Krafft, volcanologists and filmmakers from the Alsace region in France. They were too close. They were almost always too close. On the day before they died, Maurice said in an interview: “I am never afraid, because I’ve seen so many eruptions in 25 years that, even if I die tomorrow, I don’t care.” The Kraffts left an archive of over 200 hours of footage, unprecedented in its spectacular and hypnotic beauty. Werner Herzog who had access to the entire archive, created a film that cannot be categorized. It is not a biography. It is a rather a requiem celebrating the legacy of Katia and Maurice Krafft.
This Stolen Country of Mine
Co-presented by The Goethe Institute – Toronto
This Stolen Country of Mine is about China’s massive hunger for natural resources and how during the last decade it has been aggressively operating to obtain access to these resources in Ecuador. The country is now stuck with the most Chinese debts in Latin America. Meet Paúl Jarrín Mosquera, who leads the indigenous resistance against the exploitation of their land. Meanwhile, China uses the Ecuadorian government to turn the country into one of its new colonies, having made the country dependent on credit through a series of corrupt and greedy treaties. When journalist Fernando Villavicencio exposes these plots and gets access to the contracts between China and Ecuador, the government wants him silenced too. Both men are fighting for freedom in this battle against a superpower.
The Wild Sheep Society of BC is one of BC’s leading conservation organizations. WSSBC’s reputation to put money on the ground that directly effects wildlife is held in the highest regard. One of their action items is to continue the study of a pandemic happening amongst wild sheep. The infectious bacteria known as mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (movi) is a bacteria that is passed from domestic sheep to wild sheep. Wild sheep do not have the immune systems to fight the bacteria, thus leaving them susceptible to pneumonia which, in most cases, leads to death. Enter Dr. Helen Schwantje, the lead wildlife veterinarian for the Government of BC and a sheep farmer. Helen is at the forefront of the battle against Movi. Working with a handful of other passionate scientists and volunteers they’re doing what they can to try and stop the spread of this killer. There is no shortage of struggles though… a lack of resources, a lack of public awareness, a lack of proven science, and the biggest foe of all… a lack of time.
UÝRA – The Rising Forest
Uýra, a trans-indigenous artist travels through the Amazon forest on a journey of self-discovery using performance art and ancestral messages to teach indigenous youth and confront structural racism and transphobia in Brazil. On the one hand, it is the story of a young biologist, activist, and educator, carrying out grassroots work in the preservation of the indigenous culture and the Amazonian ecosystem in one of the most violent countries in the world. On the other hand, it is also a story of this same young person’s performance character, Uýra, an enchanted being, confronting structural racism and the dismantling of the culture by the current authoritarian Brazilian government.
Wings Over Water
Saturday, October 15 at the Paradise Theatre // 12pm
Co-presented by Wildlife Preservation Canada
As the glaciers retreated at the end of the last ice age, they left an astounding gift of connected rivers, lakes and wetlands across the heartland of North America. Today, these largely unknown water highways remain an oasis for sustaining wildlife. From the herds of bison that still roam the Great Plains to the vital honeybees that pollinate our crops and especially for the millions of magnificent birds that migrate along these “flyways.” Wings Over Water tells the story of the epic journeys of three amazing bird families – the Sandhill Crane, the Yellow Warbler and the Mallard Duck – with extraordinary footage of their fascinating behaviors, as they head home to raise their young.
Encounters in the Natural World Shorts Program
Ola Ka Honua
Haulout by Evgenia Arbugaeva, Maxim Arbugaev (25 mins UK/Russia)
On a remote coast of the Russian Arctic in a wind-battered hut, a lonely man waits to witness an ancient gathering. But warming seas and rising temperatures bring an unexpected change, and he soon finds himself overwhelmed.
Nuisance Bear by Jack Weisman, Gabriela Osio Vanden (14 mins Canada)
Churchill, Manitoba, is famous as an international destination for photographing polar bears. We’ve seen the majestic images and classic wildlife series captured here – but what do these bears see of us? Through a shift in perspective ‘Nuisance Bear’ reveals an obstacle course of tourist paparazzi and wildlife officers whom bears must navigate during their annual migration.
Ola Ka Honua by Jilli Rose (22 mins Australia)
For the past 25 years, thousands of Maui’s residents and visitors have come to volunteer at Auwahi, a storied forest on the leeward side of Haleakela volcano, planting more than 140,000 seedlings of 42 native forest species in three restoration areas totalling 56 acres. By their efforts, Auwahi has gone from being a “museum forest”, a handful of centuries-old ancestor trees in a cow pasture, to a vibrant young forest where a critical part of Hawai’i’s biota has sanctuary.
The Sanctuary by Timothy Raymond Brown, Michael Bruce Portway (6 mins Australia)
Recounting his love of the water, Ray Lewis, OAM, snorkels among the vibrant sea life of the marine sanctuary he has helped to protect.
Wrought by Joel Penner, Anna Sigrithur (19 mins Canada)
A stunning visual exploration of matter in various states of microbial transformation begs fundamental questions about human cultures’ complicated relationships with other species. It explores (and challenges) terms like spoil, ferment, compost and rot as it coaxes audiences to decompose these categories and their associated binaries: self and other, human and non-human, and nature and culture.
Indigenous Experiences Shorts Program
Bill Reid Remembers
ƛaʔuukʷiatḥ: Dugout Canoe
The_Borer and the Basket
waawiyebii’ige: She Draws a Circle
Bill Reid Remembers by Alanis Obomsawin (24 mins Canada)
The late Bill Reid – the renowned Haida artist – had a deep affection for his homeland Haida Gwaii (once known temporarily as the Queen Charlotte Islands). Born to a Haida mother and a European father, Bill Reid spent his early life away from his nation’s culture. While working for CBC Radio, Reid was drawn to sculpture, using Haida techniques and images, a move that would forever change his life and the Canadian artistic landscape. Bill Reid Remembers is a beautiful tribute from Alanis Obomsawin to her friend’s life, his legacy and his connection to his homeland.
Dugout Canoe by Steven Davies (10 mins Canada)
After working as a clearcut logger in what is now known as the Clayoquot Sound, master carver and land defender Joe Martin reconciles his past by revitalizing the ancestral knowledge and artistic practice of the traditional Tla-o-qui-aht dugout canoe.
Herd by David Borish (15 mins Canada)
In the startling collapse of the once massive George River Caribou Herd – and a subsequent total hunting ban – Inuit in Labrador, Canada, were abruptly confronted with a new reality: life without a fundamental source of food, culture, and wellbeing. Through Inuit voices, HERD tells the story of the social, emotional, and cultural disruptions from cascading ecological change by putting an essential human face to the caribou declines. It is a portrait of the deep and delicate interconnections that exist between humans and non-human life, a glimpse of heartbreaking loss and pain felt by entire communities, and an unforgettable testament of cultural endurance, hope, and resilience in the context of ecological uncertainty.
Night Ride by Todd Karehana (10 mins New Zealand)
A 66-year-old mother has an unusual ritual of returning to her old family home to care for stray cats. Worrying about the implications of her obsessive routine and its connection to the death of his brother, her son wants to understand why. Joining her night rides, he is ready to unravel the truth.
The Borer and the Basket by Desmond Simon (7 mins Canada)
As Ash Trees are dying from an invasive species in the Wabanaki Forest, it threatens the traditional baskets of the Wabanaki people. Woven together from personal stories and hard science, we follow along with basket makers and scientists as they try to save it all before it’s too late.
The Ghost Rainforest by John Davies (10 mins UK)
Told from the perspective of indigenous activist Narubia Werreria, The Ghost Rainforest follows a group of five indigenous leaders and activists from the Amazon, making an emotionally charged and once in a lifetime journey to a little known and desperately rare temperate rainforest habitat on the West Coast of Scotland. The visit is set amidst the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, a moment in history the world needed to listen to them, as ‘guardians of the forests’, but instead left them feeling ignored and sidelined. They bring their ancestral wisdom to Scotland’s Rainforest to carry out a spiritual blessing, connect distant communities and share a message of resilience and hope.
waawiyebii’ige: She Draws a Circle by Jamie Black (5 mins Canada)
She Draws a Circle reflects on the work of generations of women to interrupt cycles of violence and oppression, looking to the ways in which our spiritual connections to the land and one another help us to hold space for regenerative healing, bringing the hidden to light drawing on that light to encircle each successive generation.
Food That Grows on Water
The Billboard Squad
Augmented Flow: License to Destroy by Marcel Kreutzer (20 mins Canada)
Boating around South Indian Lake with his dad and son, Les Dysart points out the ravaged shoreline. Waterlogged debris lurks dangerously just below the surface. The lake is treacherous for the O-Pipon- Na-Piwin Cree nation (South Indian Lake) who were once one of the wealthiest lake fisheries in North America. For this community whose lifeblood is the Lake, Manitoba Hydro’s relentless pursuit for power has gouged and eroded not only the health of the lake but the First Nation community itself. Augmented Flow has been developed by the community of South Indian Lake and features Elders, knowledge keepers, and other community members sharing their perspectives on hydro and its impact on their lives and lands.
Food that Grows on Water by Gabriel Laurence Cowan (17 mins US)
Right now in Minnesota, Canadian oil pipeline company Enbridge, is illegally building the Line 3 pipeline on sovereign Native American land. The US Army Corps of Engineers has determined that there is a 100% chance that the pipeline will spill. However, they have approved the project regardless. And as predicted, the pipeline has already spilled during construction and has leaked toxic drilling fluids. If this pipeline continues to spill crude tar sand oil into the land and water it will destroy, among other things, the highly valued native wild rice (manoomin), an important food for the Ojibwe and Anishinaabe people. For countless centuries, every fall the Ojibwe people have been foraging for wild rice in the many lakes Minnesota has to offer. Wild Rice is part of their origin story and one of the reasons why they migrated from the East Coast to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Sacrificed by David Sanchez (12 mins Canada)
Flavie is a daring and opinianated 15-year-old teen who, in order to defend her social and environmental beliefs, is ready to practice civil disobedience even at the risk of facing justice. In a discussion with her parents on the consequences of her actions, they will go so far as to confront their respective visions of the future and what actions to take for things to change. A powerful debate between two generations.
The Billboard Squad by Cat Mills (25 mins Qatar)
When quirky Torontonian, Dave Meslin, spotted two gigantic billboards in a little forest, he asked himself “who could have approved these eyesores?” As it turns out, no one. The city admitted there were no permits for these billboards and they would be promptly removed. Fifteen years later, the billboards are still there and Dave is rolling up his sleeves to reignite the battle. He and a team of volunteers start investigating billboards in Toronto, looking for permits. As they battle city bureaucracy, Dave reflects on the loss of his mentor, Tooker, his life of activism and the severe toll it has taken on his mental health.
Trash Day by Caroline Vokas (11 mins US)
America’s abundance of discarded goods is examined through New York City dumpster divers.
Fighting for Air
Run to the Source
Belle River by Guillaume Fournier, Samuel Matteau, Yannick Nolin (11 mins Canada)
2019. Spring flooding in Mississippi hits record highs. In Louisiana, the residents of Pierre-Part are preparing for the worst. Barring an unexpected turn of events, local authorities will soon be forced to open the floodgates of the Morganza Spillway, in order to save the cities of New-Orleans and Bâton-Rouge from further uncontrolled flooding. Faith and resilience are the two best weapons they still have in the face of uncertainty.
Fighting for Air by Nicola Milne, Shanshan Chen (26 mins UK)
Air pollution has long been recognised as a cause of chronic health issues, but over the last decade, the port region, close to LA, has become one of the most polluted parts of the world. Already suffering the well-documented effects of ozone pollution, smog, and nitrogen dioxide, as E-commerce has exploded so have lung disorders, asthma and cancers. This film investigates the David v Goliath struggle for clean air as the community comes together to fight the global online giants such as Amazon, who pollute the air they breathe.
Run to the Source by Matt Kay (35 mins UK)
Martin Johnson embarks on his most challenging run, as he explores the connection between Black British history and the River Thames. What starts as a grueling and ambitious record-breaking attempt turns into a journey of discovery. He learns both about himself and the entangled history between Black people and the river, and hopes his run will encourage more diversity in the sport of trail running and inspire others to get out beyond the city and run.
Farm Under the City
The Ocean Solution
Believers Garden by Simon Mwai (8 mins Kenya)
Believers Garden is the result of a tremendous community effort to transform the environmental landscape of Kenya’s largest dumpsite. We view the Dandora community and the dumpsite through Evans “Transformer” Otieno’s eyes, as he takes us on a personal journey showing the viewer where he comes from, what challenges he has faced along the way and what his vision for the community looks like. The challenges that plastics present to the community are immense, but Evans shows us that even from humble beginnings, no dream is too big to achieve.
Eco-Hack! by Josh Izenberg, Brett Marty (16 mins US)
Biologist Tim Shields has watched desert tortoise populations in the Mojave Desert plummet since the 1990s. The latest threat? Ballooning populations of ravens, thanks to increased human activity in the desert. Tired of “taking notes on a quiet catastrophe,” Tim quits traditional observational biology in exchange for direct intervention. Building specialized drones, desert rovers, laser cannons, and fake exploding tortoise shells, Tim is waging a technological war on ravens in a last ditch effort to save the species, and prove that innovation, technology, and imagination may be the last hope for saving the planet.
Our Ark by Deniz Tortum, Kathryn Hamilton (12 mins The Netherlands)
We are backing up the planet, creating 3D models of animals, rainforests, cities and people. We are archiving as if ecological collapse could be staved off through some digital Noah’s Ark of beasts and objects. OUR ARK is an essay film on our efforts to create a virtual replica of the real world.
Saving Glaciers by Ciril Jazbec (8 mins Slovenia)
A scientist and his team on a mission to save the inevitable melting of glaciers in the Alps. Determined that the melting and eventual disappearance of the glaciers in the Alps can be averted, dr. Felix Keller, a Swiss glaciologist, and his team set out to develop a complex snow cabling system, recycling glacial meltwater into snow. Unlike others, their solution can be scaled up enough to save an entire Morteratsch glacier. Enthusiasm, resilience, and love for the Alps reflect in these locals’ efforts to save the winter for future generations.
The Farm Under the City by Brett Chapman, Jordan Carroll (10 mins UK)
Luke Ellis is a builder-turned-farmer that has set up an innovative new business in the heart of Sheffield’s industrial quarter. Leaf + Shoot is an underground vertical bioponic farm built in a disused spring factory. His closed loop system takes the food waste from local restaurants, cafés and businesses in his community and uses organic cycling methods including worm farms and hot composting to grow micro-herbs and vegetables beneath the streets of Sheffield. We follow Luke on his inspirational journey to revolutionise the way we all think about urban farming.
The Ocean Solution by Darcy Hennessey Turenne (14 mins US)
Farming under the sea? Meet Bren Smith, the ocean farming pioneer whose vertical kelp and shellfish farms can transform the way food is produced. As a commercial fisherman, Bren’s career was nearly wrecked by the crashing cod stocks in the North Atlantic; he then turned to oyster farming, just in time for catastrophic, climate-driven storms to show him there wasn’t a solid future in that, either. Unwilling to tether himself to land, he took the hard lessons learned and returned to the sea with a new method of restorative ocean farming. What he discovered is a way to produce large quantities of nutritious food that fights the climate crisis, cleans the ocean, creates aquatic habitat and sustains his sea-going way of life.
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All Access Fest Pass
Opening Night Gala
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