2020 Film List

2040  •  Artifishal  •  Assholes: A Theory  •  Beauty  •  Conviction  •  Doctrine of Discovery: Stolen Lands, Strong Hearts  •  Eating Up Easter  •  Fashion’s Dirty Secrets  •  Finding Solitude  •  Five Acres  •  From Seed to Seed  •  Gay Chorus: Deep South  •  The Guardians  •  Hayashi Studio  •  Jordan River Anderson: The Messenger  •  Nae Pasaran!  •  nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up  •  PUSH  •  The Superfood Chain  •  Tree of Life and Its People  •  Up, Down, and Sideways  •  Way of the Hunter  •  The Whale and the Raven  •  Wilder Than Wild: Fires, Forests & the Future  •  Yalis Rising: Celebrating the T’lisalagi’lakw School

2040 (2019)
92 minutes
Damon Gameau

Award-winning director Damon Gameau embarks on a journey to explore what the future would look like by the year 2040 if we simply embraced the best solutions to the climate crisis already available to us to improve our planet and shifted them into the mainstream. Structured as a visual letter to his 4-year-old daughter, Gameau blends traditional documentary footage with dramatized sequences and high-end visual effects to create a positive vision of what the planet could look like in 2040 when his daughter will be 25. From micro-grid renewable energy in full swing in Bangladesh, to farmers switching to regenerative agricultural methods, to marine permaculture that could solve our food insecurity woes, it is an exercise in “fact- based dreaming” – and it shows that in many cases, action is being led from the ground up. Jury Award, Adelaide Youth Film Festival.

Artifishal (2019)
81 minutes
Josh Murphy

Artifishal is a film about people, rivers, and the fight for the future of wild fish and the environment that supports them. The film looks at the high cost – ecological, financial, and cultural – of our mistaken belief that engineered solutions can make up for habitat destruction. Artifishal explores a variety of important issues including wild salmon’s slide toward extinction and threats posed by fish farms. It challenges us to rethink our views on fish hatcheries and our continued loss of faith in nature.

Assholes: A Theory (2019)
81 minutes
John Walker

Some grapple with the challenge of treating other human beings decently. Others are just… assholes, claims Professor Aaron James in his New York Times bestselling book, Assholes: A Theory. This intellectually provocative film takes a playful approach to uncovering why asshole behaviour is on the rise in the workplace, in government, and at home. Lively commentary is provided by actor John Cleese, former Canadian police officer Sherry Lee Benson-Podolchuk, Italian LGBTQ activist Vladimir Luxuria and others. Best Documentary Script, Writers Guild of Canada; Best Documentary, Nova Scotia Screen Awards.

Beauty (2017)
23 minutes
Christina Willings

Beauty explores the lives of five gender-creative kids, each uniquely engaged in shaping their own sense of what it means to be fully human. Whether it’s dealing with bullies, explaining themselves to their parents, or navigating the uncharted waters of relationships, Bex, Lili, Fox, Tru and Milo talk about their experiences and struggle to live in authenticity. Best Documentary Social/Political, Yorkton Film Festival; Audience Choice Award, Reel Pride Film Festival.

Conviction (2019)
78 minutes
Nance Ackerman, Ariella Pahlke, Teresa MacInnes

Bianca, Treena, Laura, and Caitlin are a stark reflection of the troubling worldwide tendency to
criminalize and imprison the most vulnerable in society—those most affected by poverty, addiction, childhood trauma, and mental illness.

Together with long-time prisoners’ rights advocate Kim Pate and others, these women collaborate with the filmmakers to answer a deceptively simple question: What would you have needed to avoid incarceration? Through art, photography, filmmaking and poetry, the women inside envision a more ideal world on the outside. Their creative agency emerges as a force that empowers them to chart the course of their own lives, and they become increasingly engaged in making Conviction—not another ‘broken prison’ film, but rather a ‘broken society’ film.

Doctrine of Discovery: Stolen Lands, Strong Hearts (2019)
66 minutes
Lisa Barry

The Doctrine of Discovery, proclaimed over 500 years ago, continues to profoundly impact Indigenous and Settler people worldwide. Pope Alexander VI ruled that the lands being discovered by European explorers at the time was “empty” land and its millions of Indigenous inhabitants were “non-human”. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission released 94 Calls to Action in 2015, with many of them referring to the Doctrine of Discovery and calling for its repudiation. This film is one of the responses of the Anglican Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice.

Eating Up Easter (2018)
76 minutes
Sergio M. Rapu

The iconic statues and sensationalized “mysteries” of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) have drawn
the interest of the world for centuries. Today, this tiny island is experiencing an economic boon as tourism skyrockets. Yet the indigenous culture and the island’s fragile environment are suffering. Some of these issues are similar to what we’re facing in BC.

Eating Up Easter, directed by native Rapanui filmmaker Sergio Mata’u Rapu, explores the dilemma his people are facing. Sergio intertwines the authentic history of the island with the stories of four islanders. A local ecologist leads recycling efforts to tackle the mounting trash arriving with tourists and the waves of plastic washing up on shore. Two musicians struggle to build a free music school they hope will preserve cultural practices and reunite their fractured community. Sergio’s father attempts to balance traditions against the advantages of development while building a mini-mall in the island’s only town. Eating Up Easter suggests ways forward in tackling the universal complexities of balancing growth and sustainability faced by local communities worldwide. Best Sustainability Award, Portuguese Surf Film Festival.

Fashion’s Dirty Secrets (2019)
47 minutes
Lucy Siegle

‘Fast fashion’ has taken the clothing industry by storm. Retailers churn out affordable versions of the latest fashions from the runway to the store shelf, and we’re pressured to keep up with the trends. While there is an increased awareness of poor labour conditions in some of these fast fashion factories, we’re still not talking seriously about how the industry is harming our planet. The fashion industry uses enormous quantities of scarce water and is thought to be one of the worst-polluting industries in the world, falling among the ranks of oil and coal.

Finding Solitude (2019)
22 minutes
Jaiden George & Tristan Hinder-Hohlweg

Finding Solitude is about saving the alpine, glaciers and forests on Vancouver Island. The film illuminates traditional outlooks, spiritual connections and land use principles of the Ahousaht, Tla-O-Qui-Aht and K’omoks peoples including the cultural history of maintaining healthy territories. The future of all glaciers on Vancouver Island, including Queneesh in the Comox Valley, is bleak. Through interviews with scientific, environmental and indigenous cultural leaders, the film explores the importance of these critical ecosystems. Given the current state of the region, what practices will need to be adopted or revitalized in order to ensure the Island’s land is preserved for future generations? Beautiful cinematography!

Five Acres (2019)
30 minutes
Paul Manly & Laurie McMillan

The Five Acre Farm in the Harewood area of Nanaimo has a long history of producing local food. It’s one of the last intact farms in BC’s first planned agricultural community. Samuel Robins, Superintendent of the Vancouver Coal Mining and Land Company had some visionary ideas. In 1884, Robbins purchased Harewood Estates, a large parcel of land between Nanaimo and the base of Mount Benson. He subdivided the area into five-acre lots and made them available as homesteads, at affordable prices, to mining families. Robins envisioned farming as a way for miners to provide for themselves whenever coal markets were depressed. Today, this farm provides food and opportunities for a wide variety of people.

From Seed to Seed (2017)
87 minutes
Katharina Stieffenhofer

In Southern Manitoba, Terry and Monique are pouring their hearts into a small, ecological farm. In love with the land, their methods are derived from generations of farming tradition, along with the best current knowledge of organic farming. Raising crops and several types of livestock, they struggle mightily against a foe their agricultural predecessors never anticipated; global climate change.

Depicting large as well as small operations, the film shows what farmers are up against, and how determined many are to adopt environmentally responsible strategies, despite the seductive conveniences of modern agricultural practices. Through one setback after another, the film’s subjects display tenacity, endurance, humour and a sustaining dedication to family and community.

From Seed to Seed exemplifies the best qualities of those who farm, and provides a hopeful look at a modern movement that will prove vital in turning the tide of environmental destruction. Numerous awards include: Best of the Fest, Colorado Environmental Film Festival; Audience Choice Award, Soo Film Festival; Best Environmental Film, Ridgefield Independent Film Festival.

Gay Chorus: Deep South (2019)
100 minutes
David Charles Rodrigues

In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in Southern US states and the divisive 2016 election, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South. Led by Conductor Dr. Tim Seelig and joined by The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the tour brings a message of music, love and acceptance to communities and individuals confronting intolerance.

Over 300 singers traveled throughout the South, performing in churches, community centers and concert halls in hopes of uniting people. The journey challenges Tim and other Chorus members who fled the South to confront their own fears, pain and prejudices on a journey towards reconciliation, sometimes within their own families. What emerges is a vision of a more hopeful US, through the soaring power of music, humanity and a little drag.
Audience Award—Documentary, TribecaFilm Festival; Audience Award for Best Documentary and Best Music Documentary (NorthwestFest); Audience Award—Best Documentary (Pink Apple Zurich).

The Guardians (2018)
60 minutes
Ben Crosbie & Tessa Moran

A visually dazzling meditation on the delicate balance between humans and nature, The Guardians elegantly interweaves the lives of the iconic monarch butterfly with an indigenous community in Mexico. Both depend on the same ancient forest for their survival and now face an uncertain future. Migrating 3,000 miles to hibernate in the towering Oyamels, the monarch population faces collapse, hitting a record low of 33 million, down from 1 billion just twenty years ago. In the valley below, the people of Donaciano Ojeda must carve out a sustainable future in their ancestral lands, now part of the protected Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Once loggers of this forest, they’ve made a radical decision to stop and to regrow it instead but they now face new threats of illegal logging. Awards: SF Green Film Festival and Berkeley Video and Film Festival.

Hayashi Studio (2019)
25 minutes
Hayley Gray

Hayashi Studio follows the diverse lives that came to Cumberland BC in the 1900s and Senjiro Hayashi, the Japanese photographer who took their photos. Hayashi used his lens to document every race, class and gender. During internment many of his photos disappeared, some hidden in family attics, others used to make a greenhouse. Almost a century later the photos were found and exhibited, showcasing a piece of Pacific Northwest history rarely seen.

Jordan River Anderson: The Messenger (2019)
66 minutes
Alanis Obomsawin

Left to languish in a hospital for all of his short life while provincial and federal government agencies ducked responsibility, Jordan River Anderson would ultimately leave behind a legacy for Indigenous children. However, Jordan’s Principle – which declares that First Nations children must receive equitable access to services – might have been an empty gesture if not for activists like Cindy Blackstock doggedly advocating to hold the Canadian government to its word. Best Canadian Documentary, Vancouver Int’l Film Festival.

Nae Pasaran! (2018)
96 minutes
Felipe Bustos Sierra

Nae Pasaran! reveals the incredible impact made by Scottish factory workers 40 years ago against the repressive dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. In 1974, Bob Fulton, a Rolls-Royce engine inspector, told his colleagues that a Chilean Air Force jet engine had arrived for maintenance and he was refusing to let it go through, in protest against the recent military coup of General Pinochet. Decades after their defiant stand in protest against Pinochet’s Air Force, these pensioners discover the dramatic consequences of their solidarity. Recently, three of the labour activists were awarded the highest honour which the Chilean government can bestow on foreigners. Best Feature: 28th British Academy Scotland Awards.

nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (2019)
99 minutes
Tasha Hubbard

On August 9, 2016, a young Cree man named Colten Boushie died from a gunshot to the back of his head after entering Gerald Stanley’s rural property with his friends. The jury’s subsequent acquittal of Stanley captured international attention, raising questions about racism embedded within Canada’s legal system. Sensitively directed by Tasha Hubbard, the film weaves a profound narrative encompassing the filmmaker’s own adoption, the stark history of colonialism on the Prairies, and a vision of a future where Indigenous children can live safely on their homelands. Colin Low Award for Canadian Documentary, DOXA; Best Canadian Feature, ImagiNATIVE Awards; Best Canadian Feature, HotDocs.

PUSH (2019)
92 minutes
Fredrik Gertten

Housing prices are skyrocketing in cities around the world. Incomes are not. PUSH sheds light on a new kind of faceless landlord, our increasingly unlivable cities and an escalating crisis that has an effect on us all. This is not gentrification; it’s a different kind of monster. The film follows Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, as she travels the globe, trying to understand who’s being pushed out of the city and why. Who are the players and what are the factors that make housing one of today’s most pressing world issues? Politiken Audience Award – CPH:DOX.

The Superfood Chain (2019)
70 minutes
Ann Shin

The Superfood Chain explores the story behind the rise of superfoods like quinoa, teff, coconuts, and wild salmon, revealing the ripple effect the superfood industry has on the lives of farm families in Bolivia, Ethiopia, the Philippines and Haida Gwaii. The documentary examines serious issues related to the globalization of superfoods, including unintended effects on food security, health, sustainable farming and fair-trade food practices.

Tree of Life and Its People (2019)
25 minutes
Ria and Lee Milliken

Renowned First Nations carver and multimedia artist Rande Cook says “This story is about our land and all that comes from it… as indigenous peoples, our language, culture, art — it’s deeply rooted connection to the land.” The goal is protection of the land from old-growth logging and land revitalization for the indigenous peoples within their traditional territories. Regarding the cedar tree, Cook says “to destroy that living organism is to take away the essence of who we are.”

Up, Down, and Sideways (2017)
83 minutes
Anushka Meenakshi, Iswar Srikumar

Phek is a village in the Indian state of Nagaland near the border with Myanmar, with around 5,000 inhabitants, nearly all of whom grow rice for their own consumption. As they work in the fields in small cooperative groups called mülé, they sing together. The rhythm and movement of hoeing, plowing, planting and harvesting is accompanied by songs and chants that echo through the hills, sometimes becoming hypnotic. The songs have been passed down for generations and tell stories of the land, love, and the concerns of everyday life in an area that for many years has been troubled by political unrest. Shots of natural beauty and people working in the fields are interspersed with interviews about their lives and music, so inextricably linked. Ethnomusicology Film Award, RAI Film Festival.

Way of the Hunter (2019)
17 minutes
Robert Moberg

Deep in the Great Bear Rainforest, against the backdrop of British Columbia’s breathtaking wilderness, a former hunter comes to terms with his past and looks with hope towards the future. Exploring one man’s evolving relationship with the natural world, Way of the Hunter tells the compelling story of Robert Moberg, a hunter who ultimately traded his gun for a camera.

The Whale and the Raven (2019)
100 minutes
Mirjam Leuze

Drawn to the rich food sources and quiet waters in the Kitimat fjord system, humpback whales, pods of orca, fin whales, and porpoises eat, play, and raise their young. Whale researchers Hermann Meuter and Janie Wray founded the Cetacea Lab on Gil Island to study this unique marine environment. As the Gitga’at First Nation struggles to protect their territory, the imminent construction of a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporting plant in nearby Kitimat, promises to bring increasing tanker traffic and noise, with unknown consequences.

Through sublime cinematography, Leuze immerses us in a truly majestic world and makes an emphatic argument for its preservation. Best Artistic Merit Award, Vancouver Int’l Film Festival.

Wilder Than Wild: Fires, Forests & the Future (2018)
57 minutes
Stephen Most & Kevin White

Wilder Than Wild recounts recent California megafires, revealing how fuel build-up and climate change have exposed Western wildlands to large, high-intensity wildfires while greenhouse gases released from these fires contribute to global warming. The Yurok tribe is renewing their tradition of cultural fires while stakeholder groups are working with scientists and resource managers to build consensus on how to restore and manage the lands we love.

Yalis Rising: Celebrating the T’lisalagi’lakw School (2020)
29 minutes
Ed Carswell

Conceived and built by the ‘Namgis First Nation, the T’lisalagi’lakw Elementary School holds the deep spirit of Alert Bay, BC. The students learn traditional songs and dances in anticipation of a year-end Potlatch celebration. For the Elders, teachers and community, this event is a sign of Yalis (Alert Bay) Rising. With vivid west coast imagery, this film reveals one of the best examples of cultural revitalization on the Pacific Coast.