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Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival

Arts Review2016-10-21By: Marc Glassman

Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival
Runs through the weekend at the AGO and Innis Town Hall at UofT with a final night film at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Bloor Cinema. For more information: www.planetinfocus.org

This is a preview, not a review.

I’m the senior programmer of Planet in Focus and passionately believe that environmental concerns should be at the forefront of our political agenda. It’s a pleasure to work on this festival. As programmer, I get to share truly interesting films about nature, the landscape, climate change (yes, I disagree with Trump), sustainability, nuclear issues and much more with audiences.

Here are highlights from this year’s festival. I urge you to go.

From Canada, Planet in Focus is premiering:

screen-shot-2016-08-17-at-3-44-22-pm-1000x300The Gardener
(Sebastien Chabot/2016/Canada/88)
Renowned gardener and horticulturalist Francis Cabot
receives an affectionate doc portrait in Sebastien
Chabot’s feature debut. The Gardener offers an
intimate tour of Cabot’s lush and expansive 20-acre
English-style garden and estate in Charlevoix, Quebec.

screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-3-34-42-pm-1000x300100 Short Stories
(Neal Livingston/2016/Canada/66)
Neal Livingston is Atlantic Canada’s Don Quixote: he
not only tilts at windmills, he makes them. 100 Short
Stories sees the veteran doc director combine his twin
loves—the environment and filmmaking—into one tale
of trial and ultimate triumph.

What Lies Below
(Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais/2015/Canada/79)
Lawrence Gunther, a legally blind environmental
advocate, travels across Canada, inviting people
to look deeper at the ecological impact on fish
populations of environmental spills from human
sewage and oil extraction in various communities.
Deeply personal, this film shows that Gunther and
others offer hope for the future.

International features receiving Toronto premieres are:

(Zhao Liang/2015/China/France/87)
In this work of sublime artistry and righteous anger,
political documentarian Zhao Liang draws inspiration
from the Divine Comedy, depicting the rapacious
industrialization of Inner Mongolia as a mesmerizing
journey through the underworld.

screen-shot-2016-08-25-at-1-14-45-pm-1000x300In Pursuit of Silence
(Patrick Shen/2015/United States/82)
With the World Health Organization identifying noise
pollution as a major burden on public health, Patrick
Shen’s immersive cinematic meditation visits some
of the planet’s loudest and quietest spaces, inviting
audiences to ponder their relationship with silence
and to hear the world anew.

1_etl_photo_by_ana_dermer-sm-1000x300Ever the Land
(Sarah Grohnert/2015/New Zealand/89)
A rewarding tale of reconciliation, indigenous pride
and ecological innovation, Sarah Grohnert’s debut
documentary profiles New Zealand’s Nga ̄i Tu ̄hoe
Maori tribe as they seek an apology from the Crown
for historic injustices and construct an architectural
marvel of a community centre using radically
sustainable methods.

screen-shot-2016-08-17-at-2-32-04-pm-1000x300Cheshire, Ohio
(Eve Morgenstern/2016/United States/74)
Cheshire is nearly a ghost town after a nearby power
plant contaminates the area. A handful of defiant
residents remain despite the obvious health risks after
the plant decides to buy Cheshire instead of curb
its emissions. Cheshire Ohio is a passionate feat of
activist filmmaking.

Freightened: The Real Price of Shipping

(Denis Delestrac/2016/Spain/France/83)
This intense doc is an eye-opening look at the invisible
network of thousands of container ships constantly
crisscrossing the globe, keeping the industrialized
world spinning. It’s the story of a rich society running
on the consumption of cheap goods, and the cost of
this insatiable appetite on the world.

Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus

Tune in to hear Marc Glassman’s Art Reviews
Friday’s at 9:07am on Good Day GTA.


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