Water Docs 2016

Thanks for your interest in water and see you next March!

Meanwhile, consider hosting a water film with your group.

The energy to bring water from the lakeWater Shed logoWater Docs 2016 surpassed expectations! A documentary film festival about all things water, Water Docs presents features and shorts, discussions with special guests and filmmakers, student films, and opportunities to take action to protect water. 
We put on an exciting exhibit this year with sports photographer Dave Sandford’s acclaimed photos of the awesome power of wind and water in Lake Erie called Liquid Mountains. And we got wonderful feedback on the Water Shed live installation, where people could take a moment to commune with water. And Pedal Power continued to amaze young and old alike, seeing how much energy it takes to bring water from the lake to Daniels Spectrum.
Photo by Dave Sandford
Click the schedule for trailers and details about each film and event in the 2016 festival.

Monday, March 21 @ 6 pm at the University of Toronto

Free pre-festival special event – Water: For All Our Relations, with MPP Glen Murray and a panel

Please click Tickets to reserve your seat.

Special venue: University of Toronto, Room HS 610, 6th floor Auditorium, Health Sciences Building, 155 College Street

Co-presenters: Ontario Water Works Association – U of T Student Chapter & Ecologos. Emcee: Bruce Carpenter

Guest speakers and panel discussion: Opening remarks at 6:25  by MPP Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, and a panel discussion and Q&A after the film at 8:30 with Lee Maracle and filmmaker Victoria Lean.

Feature: After the Last River (2015, 91 min, CANADA)

Filmmaker: Victoria Lean
In the shadow of a De Beers diamond mine, a remote indigenous community lurches from crisis to crisis, as their homeland transforms into a modern frontier. Rosie Koostachin delivers donations to families who live in uninsulated sheds, overgrown with toxic mold. She is determined to raise awareness, believing that if only Canadians knew, her hometown’s dire situation would improve. Over five years, filmmaker Victoria Lean follows Attawapiskat’s journey from obscurity and into the international spotlight twice: first when the Red Cross intervenes and again during the protest movement, Idle No More. Weaving together great distances, intimate scenes and archive images, the documentary chronicles the First Nation’s fight for justice in the face of hardened indifference.

Join us for a viewing of this thought-provoking and enlightening documentary that connects personal stories from the First Nation to entwined mining industry agendas and government policies, painting a complex portrait of a territory that is an imperiled homeland to some and a profitable new frontier for others.

Short: Nature Rx, Parts 1 and 2 (2015, 1.5 min each, USA)

Nature Rx - nature is not clickable

Producers: Justin Bogardus & Joseph Victorine
These shorts are from an award-winning comedy series about a struggle affecting many of us today. Set in the world of a spoofed prescription drug commercial, Nature Rx offers a hearty dose of laughs and the outdoors — two timeless prescriptions for whatever ails you. Side effects may include confidence, authenticity, remembering you have a body, and being in a good mood for no apparent reason.

With Nature Rx environmentalism also gets a needed dose of fun. Nature Rx is a friendly reminder to us earthly inhabitants of what feels good and what is worth protecting once we take an adventure outdoors. Warning: when enjoying nature always pick up after yourself, be prepared safe, and leave it better than you found it.

Back to Schedule ⌃

Tuesday, March 22

Opening Night @ 7 pm at Daniels Spectrum

Co-presenters: Lake Ontario Waterkeeper & Ecologos. Emcee: Stephen Scharper

Guest speakers: Caleb Behn, the subject of the film, and Filmmaker Fiona Rayher (in person).

Environmental NGO: Council of Canadians Toronto

BEST PROJECT WINNER: Story of the Unpluggernauts (2016, 7 min), by Brookside Public School, Scarborough, a Water Docs @ School Action Projects grade 8 documentary

Feature: Fractured Land (2015, 80 min, CANADA)

Filmmakers: Fiona Rayher & Damien Gillis
Executive Producers: Daniel Conrad, Mark Achbar & Charlotte Engel
In Fractured Land, we follow Caleb Behn, a young Dene lawyer who may become one of this generation’s great leaders, if he can discover how to reconcile the fractures within himself, his community and the world around him, blending modern tools of the law with ancient wisdom. As 350.org founder, Bill McKibben, puts it, “Anyone who can throw a hatchet and sue you is a force to be reckoned with.”

Caleb sports a Mohawk and tattoos, hunts moose, and wears a business suit. His father is a devout environmentalist and residential school survivor. His mother is in a senior position in the oil and gas industry. His people, at the epicenter of some of the largest fracking operations on earth, are deeply divided. How does Caleb balance their need for jobs with his sacred duty to defend their territory? He has arrived at a key moment in history, sees the contradictions, and wants to reconcile them.

Short: Toronto premiere of Keepers of the Water (2013, 12.5 min, CANADA)

Filmmaker: Liz Zetlin
A lyrical docu-poem about women and water, narrated by Anishinabe poet and storyteller Lenore Keeshig, and featuring Shirley John, an Ojibway elder from Saugeen First Nation. Known as ‘Strong White Buffalo Woman,’ Shirley has carried water teaching all over Ontario, to Newfoundland, and to Hawaii.

Filmmaker Liz Zetlin joined the Saugeen First Nations Annual Water Walk to Lake Huron and learned how in the Anishinabe tradition, women are responsible for caring for water. Through stories, music and song, Zetlin takes us back to the basics of why water is so important and must be cared for by everyone. As Ojibway healer and water walker Pauline Shirt says: “Everything is water. Everything.”

Artscape Lounge where the reception will be

Join us for the Opening Night Reception:

Following the screening, you are invited to an Opening Night Reception in the Artscape Lounge, hosted by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Ecologos.
Come and talk to filmgoers, the filmmaker, Caleb Behn, and others. Take a look at the exhibits. We hope to see you there!

Back to Schedule ⌃

Wednesday, March 23 @ 7 pm

Planet In Focus @ Water Docs — Water: Oceans and Reefs

Co-presenters: Planet in Focus Film Festival & the Ontario Underwater Explorers SCUBA Club & Ecologos. Emcee: Sonia Collymore

Guest speaker: Marcy Cravat (via Skype)

BEST FILM WINNER: Keeping Up With Compost (2016, 5 min), by Hazel McCallion Senior Public School, Mississauga, a Water Docs @ School Action Projects grade 8 documentary

Feature: Angel Azul (2014, 72 min, USA)

Filmmaker: Marcy Cravat
Narrator: Peter Coyote
Angel Azul explores the artistic journey of Jason deCaires Taylor, an innovative artist who combines creativity with an important environmental solution; the creation of artificial coral reefs from statues he’s cast from live models. When algae overtake the reefs, however, experts provide the facts about the perilous situation coral reefs currently face and solutions necessary to save them. Peter Coyote generously provides insightful narration that leaves viewers pondering our connection to this valuable and beautiful ecosystem.

Short: Canadian premiere of Our Deepest Waters: Exploring Marine National Monuments in the Remote Reaches of the Pacific (2014, 20 min, USA)

Filmmaker: Stephani Gordon
Imagine islands where the skies are full of birds, the waters are full of sharks, and sea turtles crawl up to nest. Imagine life thriving in the deep ocean with undersea volcanoes instead of the sun for energy. These are wild and remote places set aside and protected as marine national monuments. Experience the visual wonder and scientific insights of these incredible Pacific ecosystems – ranging from the world’s smallest atoll to the deepest trench on earth.

Back to Schedule ⌃

Thursday matinée, March 24 @ 2-4:30 pm

Water: Beyond Borders

Guest speakers: Filmmakers Barnali Ray Shukla and Clish Gittens (via Skype)

Environmental action: Saving a Shoreline

BEST FILM Honourable Mention: Algonquin Micro Hatchery (2016, 10.5 m), by Algonquin Road Public School, Sudbury, a Water Docs @ School Action Projects grade 8 documentary

Feature: Canadian premiere of Liquid Borders (2015, 38 min, INDIA)

Filmmaker: Barnali Ray Shukla
The documentary film finds its beginning, born out of the need to explore existing geographical & political boundaries of India, juxtaposed with, human, emotional & spiritual bridges. Geographically speaking, India is a peninsula. Three sides are flanked by water. Specifically the East, West & South. Incidentally, the North too, is serrated by mighty rivers. This makes the boundaries of India fluid, inclusive & accessible to our neighbours. The same adjectives interpreted in the political jargon means, menace of porosity, infiltration & threat to security. The magnitude and the irony of this dichotomy promote the need to address this subject as a film.

In a sometimes dark and hopeless world, we need stories reminding us of the constructive options that are always present. The film was created to engage, enthuse, and envision a new-found look at liquid borders.

Feature: North American premiere of H2O (2015, 20 min, BARBADOS)

Filmmaker: Clish Gittens
H2O is a creative informative work of visual art, shot on location in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. The scope of the project through “Water cooperation” is an attempt to highlight and introduce awareness to the impact of water sources, and its management. Water management plays a pivotal part in the physical and environmental well being of all living things. According to The United Nations water provides the “fulfilment of basic human needs, our environment, socio-economic development and poverty reduction are all heavily dependent on water.” (UNDESA) Documentary filmmaking is a visual tool used to bring awareness in various subject matters across the globe. Through this marriage of visual filmmaking art, interviews and extensive research the documentary film H2O attempts to provide awareness but at the same time entertain.

Song of Padma poster and link to trailer

Short: North American premiere of Song of Padma (2012, 12.5 min, BANGLADESH)

A short film without dialogue or sound effects (only music) it depicts the fate of the Padma River, once one of the largest rivers in Bangladesh and now shrunken with a loss of flow from climate change, diversion and neglect.

Back to Schedule ⌃

Thursday evening, March 24 @ 7 pm

Water: The Beauty of Rivers

Emcee: Sid Ryan

Co-presenters: Clean Water for Living & Ecologos

Guest speaker: Filmmaker John Murray (via Skype)

Environmental NGO: Freshwater Future Canada

Hydration Outreach (2016, 6 min), by Sam Sherratt Public School, Milton, a Water Docs @ School Action Projects grade 8 film

Common Thread Community ChorusWater Songs: A special choral performance by Common Thread Community Chorus of Toronto, directed by Isabel Bernaus. They will be presenting a longer program of water songs on May 28th at the Cecil Community Centre, 58 Cecil Street.

Feature: On a River in Ireland (2015, 60 min, IRELAND)

Filmmaker: John Murray
The Shannon is Ireland’s greatest geographical landmark and the longest river. It is both a barrier and highway – a silver ribbon holding back the rugged landscapes of the west from the gentler plains to the east. On its journey south, the Shannon passes through a huge palette of rural landscapes; where on little-known backwaters, Ireland’s wild animals and plants still thrive as almost nowhere else. For a year, wildlife cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson lives on the river – camping on its banks, exploring its countless tributaries in a traditional canoe, following the river from dawn to dusk through the four seasons, on a quest to film the natural history of the Shannon as it has never been seen or heard or experienced before.

Boat People film

Short: World premiere of Boat People (2013, 9.5 min, USA)

An exploration of life on the sea through the stories of boat people in Napa Valley and Balinas.

Short: North American premiere of Nomad (2015, 7.5 min, UK)

Nomad is a modern tale that takes you onboard the London canal. Discover the lifestyle of those who choose to belong to this floating community.

Back to Schedule ⌃

Friday matinée #1, March 25 @ 1-3 pm

Free Family Day program 

Free Regent Park Family Matinée — Water: Worth Fighting For

Co-presenters: Toronto Nepali Film Festival & Ecologos

Guest speakers: Filmmakers Govinda Nepal and Jonah Bryson (in person) and Rob Stewart (via Skype)

Environmental NGO: Save the Bala Falls

Changing Our Water Use Tudes In ON (2016, 6 min), by St. Elizabeth Public School, Toronto, a Water Docs @ School Action Projects 8th grade film

Water Front link to trailer
[ Watch the trailer ]

Feature: The Water Front (2007, 53 min, USA)

Filmmaker: Liz Miller

The Water Front is the story of an American city (Highland Park, Michigan – in 2007) in crisis but it is not just about water. The story touches on the very essence of our democratic system and is an unnerving indication of what is in store for residents around the world facing their own water struggles.

Feature: Canadian premier of TROUBLED WATER (2013, 31 min, NEPAL)

Filmmaker: Govinda Nepal

The Himalayan Mountains supply Nepal with an abundance of fresh water, yet Kathmandu Valley is facing a severe water shortage. In this film, local people and experts who live in this area try to tackle this growing problem. This film was made before the devastating earthquakes of 2015. It shows how even before the natural disaster, Kathmandu faced a severe water crisis. Today, the problem of water still remains and must be dealt with urgently.

Short: North Amreican premiere of The Fight for Bala (2015, 9 min, CANADA)

Filmmakers: Jonah Bryson and Rob Stewart

This documentary by award-winning film directors Jonah Bryson and Rob Stewart examines this community’s determination to stand together and fight against a development they say will irreparably ruin the natural landscape, destroy the tourism industry forever and wreck livelihoods – without providing any benefit to the community.

In an environmental battle that has implications for other small communities in Canada and around the world, there can only be one winner in The Fight for Bala – and one loser.

Reborn poster
Short: North American premiere of Reborn (2015, 7.5 min, BRAZIL)

A group of young farmers in Brazil create a “spring protection project”, making a simple action in the hope of environmental preservation and awareness for the future.

Back to Schedule ⌃

Friday matinée, March 25 @ 3:30-5:15 pm

Free Regent Park Family Matinée, a Program of Short Films about Water — Water: Eat My Shorts!

Environmental NGO: The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup
Water Pollution (2016, 9.5 min), by Sprucecourt Public School, Toronto, a Water Docs @ School Action Projects grade 8 film
Water Cycle (2015, 4.5 min, SLOVENIA)
A man sits on the toilet reading a newspaper. A closer look at the newspaper reveals the title of the article: DRINKING WATER, OUR TREASURE. This is a tongue-in-cheek look at the human water cycle.
Full Circle (2015, 2 min, USA)
Follow the journey of a plastic bag as it travels from the beach out into the open ocean.
Drowning Memories (2015, 1 min, AUSTRALIA)
In a world where the water never stops rising, a man goes diving through his memories.
Nature Rx Part 1 & Part 2 (2015, 1.5 min each, USA)
Nature Rx is an award-winning comedy series about a struggle affecting many of us today. Set in the world of a spoofed prescription drug commercial, Nature Rx offers a hearty dose of laughs and the outdoors – two timeless prescriptions for whatever ails you. Side effects may include confidence, authenticity, remembering you have a body, and being in a good mood for no apparent reason.
With Nature Rx environmentalism also gets a needed dose of fun. Nature Rx is a friendly reminder to us Earthly inhabitants what feels good and what is worth protecting once we take an adventure outdoors. Warning: when enjoying nature always pick up after yourself, be prepared safe, and leave it better than you found it.
Castillo y el Armado (2014, 14 min, BRAZIL)
Castillo is a young dockworker who lives on the coast between Brazil and Uruguay. On a windy night, he faces his own brutality on the line of his fishhook.
Looking for Gromit (2014, 3 min, FRANCE), a Canadian premiere
140 years after their creation, hundreds of fountains that Wallace donated to the city are explored in Paris.
The Fight for Bala (2015, 9 min, CANADA), a North American premiere
This documentary by award-winning film directors Rob Stewart and Jonah Bryson examines this community’s determination to stand together and fight against a development they say will irreparably ruin the natural landscape, destroy the tourism industry forever and wreck livelihoods – without providing any benefit to the community.
The Last Bridge Operator (2015, 5.5 min, NETHERLANDS), a Canadian premiere
The last bridge operator of Tilburg is waiting to retire. But does anyone want to follow in his footsteps? Meanwhile little Daan’s mother is struggling to make ends meet. 8-year-old Daan decides to take matters in his own hands …
Desert Haiku (2013, 13 min, USA), a Canadian premiere
A surrealist narrative designed as a love-poem to the soulful deserts of the American Southwest. It explores the memory of the land through the thread of the creation of life, from the very beginnings of mankind and the days of water, to the deserts that have resulted. Messengers and medicine people, dancers, children and sea creatures cross paths in these ancient landscapes, searching for water – as an apt metaphor for searching for oneself.
Cloudy (2015, 1.5 min, CANADA), a Toronto premiere
A long time ago, fishes use to live up in the sky until one day something happened creating the world that we live in now.
Silent Spectrum (2013, 7 min, USA), a Canadian premiere
They don’t say “Keep Portland Weird” for nothing! This town full of different art forms, friendly conversations and environmentally conscious partisans, also has the largest floatation center in the West Coast. Growing in numbers, these centers allow floaters the chance to get rid of all sensory outputs by floating in body-temperature high-concentrated salt water.
Doing Our Part (2015, 5.5 min, CANADA), a world premiere
Our beautiful province of British Columbia is currently besieged by wildfires and drought. As our streams and creeks dry up, the salmon fry in them are left to die — bit by bit we are losing our most amazing rivers and the creatures that make them special. This is the story about one rescue operation near the Cowichan River (Ashburnham Creek) around Canada Day.
Underwater Panther (2015, 4 min, CANADA), a Toronto premiere
To save her village attacked by the great Thunderbird, a young girl awakes the mighty spirit of the Water Panther.
Arcadia (2014, 5 min, CANADA)
Arcadia uncovers some unpleasant truths about idealized pastoral landscapes.
The Koi and the Crane (2015, 2 min, UK), a North American premiere
An illustrative animated short set in a painted abstract world, following Koi Carp and a Red Crowned Crane in their daily life. Sit back, relax and enjoy the tranquil world.
Sundays (2015, 6.5 min, CANADA), a Toronto premiere
Sundays is a short film disguised as a music video about man’s quest for knowledge.

Back to Schedule ⌃

Friday evening, March 25 @ 7pm

Free Regent Park Family Night — Water: All Dried Up …

Co-presenters: Stephen Leahy, international environmental journalist on virtual water, & Ecologos. Emcee: Erin Knag

Guest speaker: Stephen Leahy & Steve Lerner (via Skype)

FLOW Brothers: Virtual Water (7 min, 2016).

Feature: Canadian premiere of PUMPED DRY: The Global Crisis of Vanishing Groundwater (2015, 63.5 min, USA)

Filmmakers: Steve Elfers & Ian James
In places around the world, supplies of groundwater are rapidly vanishing. As aquifers decline and wells begin to go dry, people are being forced to confront a growing crisis.

This documentary travels to Morocco, India, Peru, California and Kansas to tell stories of some of those most affected by this crisis and sounds the alarm as groundwater decline threatens food and water security in key agricultural regions around the world.

Feature: Canadian premiere of When the Well Runs Dry (2015, 31.5 min, USA)

Filmmakers: Steve Lerner & Reuben Aaronson
This documentary film tenderly portrays the vital connection that rural Kansans have with water, our most precious resource. Ranchers, farmers, and residents of small Kansas towns tell us their heartfelt, personal stories about water, including the ongoing threats they face to the availability of the water they depend on.

Short: A Day in the Water Life (2011, 4.5 min, USA)

Filmmaker: Christopher McEnroe
How much water do we use? Not that much directly for drinking, washing, and cooking. But the food we eat requires a fair bit, as do our clothes and lots of things we use every day. This is known as hidden or virtual water.

To explore the concept of virtual water we follow Dave, a regular guy working in a typical office for one day, seeing how much water he uses directly compared to how much water goes into all sorts of products he uses and consumes every day. The surprising quantities and comparisons are communicated through a series quirky and engaging motion graphics that make learning fun.

Back to Schedule ⌃

Saturday matinée, March 26 @ 2-4:30 pm

Reusable Revolution (2016, 7.5 min), by Duke of Connaught Public School, Toronto, a Water Docs @ School Action Projects grade 8 film

Water: And the Winners Are …

Winner, Canadian ShowcaseWater Docs 2016_Winner Young Filmmakers Graphic_BLACK

Canadian Showcase Competition – Honourable Mentions: Puffin Patrol & Canoes for Peru

Young Filmmakers Competition – Honourable Mention: Undrinkable: The Flint Water Emergency

Guest speakers: Filmmakers Charlotte Engel & Scott Dobson (in person), with Kieran Hodges (via Skype). Also three of the Flint, Michigan students who created Undrinkable.

Puffin Patrol (2015, 50 min, Canada)

Filmmakers: Charlotte Engel & Scott Dobson
Puffin Patrol is a colourful exploration of the annual life cycle of the Atlantic puffin. This gorgeous film travels from Newfoundland’s rocky shores to puffin islands in Maine and Wales to report on what these intriguing little birds can teach us about the dangers facing our natural world. We interview scientists and environmentalists working to uncover the secrets of the puffin’s unique migration patterns. And we profile passionate environmentalists devoted to protecting baby chicks as they strike out on their own. We invite you to join our team of experts and puffin lovers on Puffin Patrol!

Canoes for Peru (2015, 18 min, Canada)

Filmmakers: Kieran Hodges & Joe Pavelka
In May of 2015 a group of students from Canada managed to get and ship 19 canoes and gear to the Peruvian Amazon with the purpose of canoeing the Alto Madre de Dios River and supporting local ecotourism. Canoes for Peru is a film about what it means to undertake a project like this, including all the crazy twists and turns.

Feature: Undrinkable: The Flint Water Emergency (2015, 26.5 min, USA)

Filmmakers: The DTV class of 2015
Undrinkable is the story of how Flint found itself in the worst crisis of the city in decades. Families in Flint have been suffering for months without clean water, having to find alternative sources. Undrinkable follows the timeline of where it all started, to where the situation is at right now.
Created and presented by DTV News: DTV is a public education channel programmed by Davison Community School’s. The goal of DTV is to create programming that highlights what’s happening in the Davison School District. DTV also offers a unique learning experience for Davison High School students. Most of DTV’s programming is created entirely by the high school video journalism class.

Short film: Want some water, deer? (2015, 2 min, Canada), a Canadian premiere

Filmmaker: José Miguel Pérez Aparicio
A factory pops up in the middle of the forest and starts producing water bottles that destroy everything they find on their way to the river. A curious deer will follow them.

bruce poster with link to trailer

Short film: North American premiere of bruce (2014, 5 min, Canada)

Filmmaker: Francesco Bori
An exploration of the Bruce National Park in Ontario, Canada and its settlers through time.

Back to Schedule ⌃

Saturday, March 26 @ 7 pm

Closing Night — Water: Mine! Mine! Mine! @ 7:00 PM

Co-presenters: JAYU Human Rights Film Festival & Ecologos. Emcee: Erin Kang

Guest speaker: Filmmaker Ernesto “Tito” Cabellos (via Skype)

Environmental NGO: Great Lakes Commons

Honourable Mention BEST PROJECT: Lost Waterways (2016, 8.5 min), by Equinox Holistic Alternative School, Toronto, a Water Docs @ School Action Projects grade 8 film

Feature: Daughter of the Lake (2015, 87 min, PERU)

Filmmaker: Ernesto “Tito” Cabellos
At the height of the Peruvian gold rush, Nelida, an Andean woman able to communicate with water spirits, uses her powers to prevent a mining corporation from destroying the body of water she considers her mother.

A gold deposit valued at billions of dollars lies just beneath Nelida’s lakes and leads farmers and Latin America’s biggest gold producer into conflict.

Short: MAN (2012, 3.5 min, UK)

Filmmaker: Steve Cutts
An animation, created in Flash and After Effects, looking at man’s relationship with the natural world.

Short: The Water Rooms #2 — Where Is Water? (2015, 7 min, ITALY)

Produced by United Nations World Water Assessment Programme (UN WWAP) of UNESCO
Animated and directed by Steve Cutts
Where and how much fresh water is there in the world? What is human impact on water, and how “real” is virtual water? The second movie of The Water Rooms journeys into the world of fresh water resources.

Back to Schedule ⌃