Water Docs Festival 2015

WaterDocs 2015

Mark your calendar for March 20-28 at the AGO in Toronto.

A documentary film festival about all things water, Water Docs presents features and shorts, discussions with special guests and filmmakers, and opportunities to take action to protect water. The festival informs, educates and activates our audiences about water and water issues. The likelihood of having enough clean, fresh water is diminishing everywhere. Ontarians can no longer afford to be complacent about water. Attitudes and practices must change – now, not ten years from now. So, for the love of water, come join us!

To buy tickets for films or passes, use this ticket link, or see the tickets page. Buy Tickets

Click the schedule for trailers and details about each film and event in the 2015 festival.

Wednesday, March 18

Intercultural Screening with OWWA @ 5:30 PM

An Ontario Water Works Association / Water Docs Pre-Festival Special Event
At the University of Toronto, HS 160 Health Sciences Building, 155 College Street

Monsoon (2014, 106 min, CAN)

Writer / Director: Sturla Gunnarsson
Producers: Ina Fichman, Luc Martin-Gousset
Monsoon is a feature documentary from multiple award-winning filmmaker Sturla Gunnarsson. Filmed over the course of India’s 2013 monsoon season in ultra high definition 4K, the filmmakers chased the monsoon on its annual journey from the southern state of Kerala, where it first makes landfall, to India’s north-eastern state of Meghalaya (‘Place of the Clouds’), where the clouds go to die. Along the way, they meet a remarkable group of individuals whose lives are in different ways entwined with the phenomenon that some call ‘the soul of India’.

A cinematic journey into the terrain where nature, science, belief and wonder converge in one of the most astonishing and breathtaking landscapes on earth, Monsoon is a film that captures the timelessness and rich human drama of our engagement with the natural world.

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Friday, March 20

Opening Night @ 7:00 PM

DamNation (2014, 87 min, USA)

Directors: Ben Knight & Travis Rummel
Producers: Yvon Chouinard (conceived by), Ben Knight, Matt Stoecker
This film odyssey across America explores the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers. Dam removal has moved beyond the fictional Monkey Wrench Gang to go mainstream. Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other wild fish the right of return to primeval spawning grounds, after decades without access. DamNation’s majestic cinematography and unexpected discoveries move through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, but also through a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature.

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Saturday, March 21

Family Day @ 12:00 – 4:00 PM

Family Day is a special day filled with fun and engaging activities for the whole family that will teach you all about water and just how important it is for everyone through interactive games and interesting films. Facilitated by Ecoloodi and Engineers Without Borders.

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The Water Brothers @ 2:00 PM

2 Episodes from the Series
The Water Brothers will be in attendance to introduce the films and for a post-screening Q&A

Water Brothers Series

From the North Pole (the Canadian Arctic, Iceland and Greenland) to the African Continent (Tanzania, Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro) the Water Brothers travel across the globe to explore and share with us the most critical water stories of our time. Please join us at 2:00 PM for:

The Big Thaw

Season 1: The Big Thaw (2012, 24:37 min, CAN)

The North Pole is melting faster than ever. The Northwest Passage will soon be an international shipping lane. The polar bear may soon be extinct. Change in the Arctic is happening at warp speed. With rising sea levels, the fate of the world depends on slowing the Big Thaw. The Water Brothers visit the Arctic to get the facts and find answers.

No Woman No Water

Season 2: No Woman, No Water (2013, 25 min, CAN)

Hundreds of millions of people live without access to clean water and billions live without a toilet, causing countless lives to be lost each day. It is women and girls that are usually given the difficult task of hauling water, taking many hours each day often in the hot sun and sacrificing much for their families and communities. The brothers travel to Africa to the most water scarce regions of Tanzania and Kenya, to see firsthand how simple water projects can make huge changes towards economic advancement – and how it is women who hold the key to improving clean water and sanitation access in their local communities. And the Brothers make an adventurous climb up Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, to help raise money for clean water and sanitation projects across East Africa.

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Evening Screening @ 7:00 PM

Divide in Concord (2013, 82 min, USA)

DIRECTORS: Kris Kaczor
PRODUCERS: David Regos & Jaedra Luke
Divide in Concord is a feature-length documentary that follows the entertaining tale of the battle of banning bottled water in small town America.

The year was 1775 in Concord, Massachusetts when colonists fired the infamous ‘shot heard round the world’ that began the American Revolution. One hundred years later, the work of local resident Henry David Thoreau began the environmental movement. And now, the spirit of revolution has returned to town. Jean Hill, a fiery 84-year-old widow and mother of four, wants to ban the sale of bottled water from Concord. Her path begins when her grandson tells her about the disastrous environmental effects of the empty plastic bottles. Jean presents a bylaw to ban the sale of single-serve plastic bottles at the 2010 and 2011 Town Meetings. After losing by seven votes in 2011, she vows to continue the crusade with neighbour and Harvard Law Grad, Jill Appel. If enacted, the law would be the first of its kind in the world. But all are not in agreement with the ban. Merchants are wary of the bylaw. Philanthropist, mother, model and celebrity publicist Adriana Cohen takes the fight to the spotlight, calling the ban “an attack on freedom”. With billions of dollars at stake, the International Bottled Water Association sends in the cavalry.

The town is abuzz as Patriot’s Day celebrations begin. War re-enactors take the field, cannons fire at dawn, and the parades commence. April’s Town Meeting provides the stage for Concord’s latest battle. From the town that began America and Environmentalism, springs a new Revolution.

Director Kris Kaczor will join us remotely for a post-screening Q & A.

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Sunday, March 22

World Water Day @ 7:00 PM

Oil & Water (2014, 78 min, USA)

Writers / Directors: Laurel Spellman Smith & Francine Strickwerda
Oil & Water is the true story of two boys coming of age as they each confront one of the world’s worst toxic disasters. Hugo and David were born on opposite ends of the oil pipeline. Hugo comes to America to fight for the survival of his Cofán tribe in the Ecuadorian Amazon, while David goes to Ecuador to launch the world’s first company to certify oil as “fair trade.” Their journeys lead them to explore what could be a more just future, not just for the Cofán, but for all people around the world born with oil beneath their feet.

Filmmakers Laurel Spellman Smith & Francine Strickwerda will join us remotely for a post-screening Q & A.

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Tuesday, March 24

Water Docs@School Student Recognition Day @ 9:00 AM

Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Guest speaker: Robyn Hamlyn, water warrior & activist

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Wednesday, March 25

The Overview Effect: Shifting Perspective @ 7:00 PM

A Water Docs / Waterlution Workshop
Facilitator: Duncan Holmes
Location: Friends House, 60 Lowther Avenue, Toronto

In all you’ve lived and seen, have you had an instance where you found meaning in something that is bigger than yourself? A moment of perspective shift? What changed after this moment? How can a perspective shift lead to behavioural shift? What is YOUR role in shifting your own perspective and behaviour and that of others on important water matters? Join us for a stimulating evening with a film screening followed by interactive dialogue.


OVERVIEW (2012, 19 min, USA)

Astronauts who have seen the Earth from space have often described the ‘overview effect’ as an experience that has transformed their perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it, and enabled them to perceive it as our shared home, without boundaries between nations or species.

“When we look down at the Earth from space we see this amazing, indescribably beautiful planet – it looks like a living, breathing organism. But it also, at the same time, looks extremely fragile.” – Ron Garan (quoted from the film)

OVERVIEW is a short film that explores this perspective through interviews with astronauts who have experienced the overview effect. The film also features insights from commentators and thinkers on the wider implications and importance of this understanding for humanity as a whole, and especially its relevance to how we meet the tremendous challenges facing our planet at this time.

The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible (2015, 5:06 min, CAN)

Director / Editor: Ian MacKenzie
Producer: Chris Agnos

“There is a vast territory between what we’re trying to leave behind, and where we want to go – and we don’t have any maps for that territory.” – Charles Eisenstein

Filmed in the fading light on the shores of Northern Scotland, this short film captures Charles Eisenstein in a moment of grief and reflection. The familiar story of the past is crumbling, while the new story has yet to arrive. In a time of social and ecological crisis, what can we, as individuals, do in this space between?

An African proverb states “sometimes you must get lost in order to find your way.” Eisenstein invites us to embrace a radically different understanding of cause and effect, sounding a clarion call to surrender our old worldview of separation, so that we can finally create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.

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Thursday, March 26

Evening Screening @ 7:00 PM

3 Short Films About Water
The Water Tower, Chasing Water, Delta Dawn – 3 short water films by Pete McBride

The Water Tower: (2013, 27.5 min, USA)

Filmmaker: Peter McBride
In Central Kenya, northeast of the Rift Valley, there is a tower. It is a monumental granite swell with a crumbling pinnacle that stretches 17,058 feet into the sky. Mt. Kenya, the second tallest peak in Africa, is home to Ngai, the local water god that is said to create the rains. As a result, Ngai and the mountain provide 70% of the nation’s water supply, fed by glaciers and annual storms that eddy around this looming rock island. Pete McBride climbed its false summit with his family when was 9. Returning in 2012 with a group of climbers, he noticed something frightening. It wasn’t the same mountain he climbed as a boy.

Chasing Water: (2011, 18 min, USA)

Filmmaker: Peter McBride
Follow the Colorado River, source to sea, with photographer Pete McBride who takes an intimate look at the watershed as he attempts to follow the irrigation water that sustains his family’s Colorado ranch, down river to the sea.
This award-winning short documentary combines an artistic, aerial view with a personal journey to understand this national treasure. McBride teamed up with his bush-pilot father to capture unique footage and also shadowed the adventure of Jon Waterman who became the first to paddle the entire length of the river.


Delta Dawn: (2014, 16.5 min, USA)

Filmmaker: Peter McBride
The Colorado River ran to the Sea for six million years but stopped nearly two decades ago. In the spring of 2014, something changed. An experimental pulse of water flooded this river of sand and a team paddled the crest to see if they could be the first to navigate this forgotten delta and once again kiss the sea.

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Intercultural Screening @ 7:00 PM

A Noor Cultural Centre /Water Docs Special Screening Event
To be screened at the Noor Cultural Centre, Auditorium, 123 Wynford Drive

Narmada: A Valley Rises (1994, 86 min, CAN)

Filmmaker: Ali Kazimi

This inspiring film documents the largest multiple dam project in India, which pits the villagers against the authorities promoting it. The sacred Narmada River flows through some of Asia’s most fertile land. The 1994 film offers a compelling and intimate portrait of a unique movement while raising critical and universal issues of human rights, social justice, and development within a democracy. The Narmada saga continues to this day.

Filmmaker Ali Kazimi, now Associate Professor of York University’s Department of Film, will be on hand for discussion following the screening, with reflections on other water issues.

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Friday, March 27

Soirée Francophone @ 7:00 PM

To be screened at Alliance Française, 24 Spadina Road, Toronto

Seeking The Current (2011, 86 min, CAN)

Filmmakers: Nicolas Boisclair & Alexis de Gheldere
Narrator / Actor: Roy Dupuis
Nicolas Boisclair and Alexis de Gheldere collaborate with renowned Canadian actor Roy Dupuis for this documentary of passionate environmental advocacy. The film is a convincing critique of Hydro Quebec’s Romaine River initiative–a plan to construct four dams along the 500-kilometre waterway. It’s also a story of devolution from social democratic ideals to greed and environmental destructiveness. Narrated by Dupuis and framed by the filmmakers’ 2008 canoe journey down the river, this movie details the history of Quebec’s energy industry, the likely environmental costs of the new project and, most constructively, the plethora of alternatives to hydroelectricity. Solar energy, biomass, biogas, energy efficiency, wind and geothermal power–all are thoroughly examined in terms of cost, applicability, and efficiency, and the case for them is overwhelmingly persuasive. Here’s a film that goes well beyond critique to a detailed vision of a better future for the land. The evidence is in the scrupulous research, but the power lies in the filmmakers’ journey of dedication, and the beautiful images it produces.

Filmmaker Nicolas Boisclair will join us in person for a post-screening Q & A en français.

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Saturday, March 28

Closing Night @ 7:00 PM

Antarctica: A Year On Ice (2013, 91 min, NZ)

Director: Anthony Powell
Writers: Anthony Powell & Simon Price
ANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE is a visually stunning journey to the end of the world with the hardy and devoted people who live there year-round. The research stations scattered throughout the continent host a close-knit international population of scientists, technicians and craftsmen. Isolated from the rest of the world, enduring months of unending darkness followed by periods when the sun never sets, Antarctic residents experience firsthand the beauty and brutality of the most severe environment on Earth. Capturing epic battles against hellacious storms, quiet reveries of nature’s grandeur, and everyday moments of work and laughter, this unique documentary shows a steadfast community thriving in a land few humans have experienced. Using specially modified cameras and spectacular time-lapse photography, filmmaker Anthony Powell captures the splendor of the region like no film before.

ANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE gives testament to the planet’s natural wonders, humanity’s thirst for adventure, and the emotional extremes that accompany a year within the last pristine wilderness on the planet.

Filmmakers Anthony and Christine Powell will join us remotely for a post-screening Q & A.

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