Water Docs Festival 2015

WaterDocs 2015

The festival is over; save the dates for Canada Water Week next March.

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

Wednesday, March 18 Buy Tickets

Free intercultural Screening (an Ontario Water Works Association + Water Docs event) @ 5:30 PM

At the University of Toronto, HS 610 Health Sciences Building, 155 College Street

Guest speakers and panel discussion: Director Sturla Gunnarsson, Stan Gibson (ED, Ecologos), Dr. Anwar Sadmani (Postdoctoral Fellow, Drinking Water Research Group, Civil Engineering, University of Toronto)
Featured ENGO: No Jets T.O.

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 Buy Tickets

Opening Night @ 7:00 PM at the AGO

Alan Park, emcee for opening night

Master of Ceremonies: Alan Park. A cross between a stand-up comic and sit-down satirist, Alan Park was a regular cast member on CBC’s Air Farce. A very accomplished writer and comedian, Alan is most comfortable walking the precarious edge between the profane and the ridiculous. He’s starred in a number of his own television comedy specials and has headlined in comedy clubs across North America and the U.K.
Reception: Following the screening, there will be a reception across Dundas at Bau-Xi Photo Gallery.
Guest speaker: Director Travis Rummel (via Skype)
Co-presenters: Patagonia & Ecologos

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.

Short film: How Whales Change Climate (2014, 5 min, USA)

Editor and Producer: Steve Agnos
Narration: George Monbiot
When whales were at their historic populations, before their numbers were reduced, it seems that whales might have been responsible for removing tens of millions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year. Whales change the climate. The return of the great whales, if they are allowed to recover, could be seen as a benign form of geo-engineering. It could undo some of the damage we have done, both to the living systems of the sea, and to the atmosphere.

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Two events on Saturday, March 21

Family Day @ 12:00 – 4:00 PM at the AGO Buy Tickets

Guest speakers: Alex & Tyler Mifflin (the Water Brothers)
Facilitators and featured ENGOs: Ecoloodi & Engineers without Borders
Co-presenters: AGO & Ecologos

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. More information about Family Day

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The Water Brothers @ 2:00 PM

2 Episodes from their TVO series at 2 PM, with Q&A

The Water Brothers will introduce the films and lead a post-screening discussion. 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.

The Big Thaw

From 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

From 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 at the AGO Buy Tickets

Guest speaker: Director Kris Kaczor (via Skype)
Featured ENGO: Environmental Defence
Co-presenters: Grassroots & Ecologos

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.

Short film: Te Story of Bottled Water (2010, 8:05 min, USA)

Writers: Annie Leonard, Jonah Sachs, Louis Fox
Director: Louis Fox
The Story of Bottled Water, released on World Water Day, 2010, employs the Story of Stuff style to tell the story of manufactured demand — how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows virtually free from the tap. Over five minutes, the film explores the bottled water industry’s attacks on tap water and its use of seductive, environmental-themed advertising to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces. The film concludes with a call for viewers to make a personal commitment to avoid bottled water and support public investment in clean, available tap water for all.

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Sunday, March 22

World Water Day Celebration @ 7:00 PM at the AGO Buy Tickets

Alan Park, emcee for opening night

Master of Ceremonies: Alan Park. A cross between a stand-up comic and sit-down satirist, Alan Park was a regular cast member on CBC’s Air Farce. A very accomplished writer and comedian, Alan is most comfortable walking the precarious edge between the profane and the ridiculous. He’s starred in a number of his own television comedy specials and has headlined in comedy clubs across North America and the U.K.
Guest speakers: Co-directors Laurel Spellman Smith & Francine Strickwerda (via Skype), and Nathan Bragg in person
Featured ENGO: Canadian Water Resource Association
Co-presenters: Water Canada & Ecologos

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.

Photo for What it All Boils Down To

Short Film: What It All Boils Down To (2012, 6:57 min, CAN)

Writers / Directors: Teresa Earle, Gerry Quarton, and Nathan Bragg with grants and technical assistance provided by Yukon Film Society, Yukon Film and Sound Commission, and the National Film Board of Canada.
Armed with firsthand experience of catastrophic damage caused by oil and gas extraction in Ecuador, a former oil industry employee and her neighbors protest a plan to frack for gas in one of the world’s most pristine freshwater systems. Photo by Robertson Bales.

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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 (live)
Co-presenters: TD Friends of the Environment, Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF) & Ecologos
More information about Water Docs @ School Action Projects

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Wednesday, March 25 Buy Tickets

The Overview Effect: Shifting Perspective @ 7:00 PM at Friends House, 60 Lowther Avenue

A Water Docs / Waterlution Workshop
Facilitator: Duncan Holmes
Co-presenters: Waterlution & Ecologos
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.
Charles Eisenstein short film

Short Film: 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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Two events on Thursday, March 26

Evening Screening @ 7:00 PM @ the AGO Buy Tickets

3 Short Films about Water plus a World Premiere about Lake Simcoe
The Water Tower, Chasing Water, and Delta Dawn by Pete McBride, followed by a brand new film by Becky Big Canoe and Serena Morcinek.
Guest speaker: Becky Big Canoe and Serena Morcinek
Featured ENGO: Great Lakes Commons
Co-presenters: NOW Magazine & Ecologos

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.


Waawaaseaagaming film poster

Waawaase’aagaming: The Waters of Lake Simcoe (2015, 27 min, CAN)

Filmmakers: Becky Big Canoe and Serena Morcinek
Waawaase’aagaming is a film with a mission and a heart. A unique look into the First Nation history and personality of Lake Simcoe and those who live and work with the lake. A popular global travel destination, famed for its year round fishing and scenic beauty, Lake Simcoe is one of the largest fresh water lakes in North America. But development, population growth and the consequential increased environmental upheaval, are changing the watershed, affecting the local wildlife and the lives of all who depend on the lake.

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Intercultural Screening @ 7:00 PM @ the Noor Cultural Centre Auditorium, 123 Wynford Drive Buy Tickets

A Noor Cultural Centre + Water Docs Special Screening Event
Guest speaker: Director Ali Kazimi, Associate Professor York University
Featured ENGO: No Jets T.O.
Co-presenters: Noor Cultural Centre & Ecologos

Narmada Dam protest photo

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

Filmmaker: Ali Kazimi
Since its 1994 premiere at Hot Docs where it won three awards, Narmada: A Valley Rises has become a classic film about the grassroots struggle against the large dams.

Documenting the longest and most sustained mass action mounted by the Save Narmada Movement, the 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. For Canadians, the resonances to aboriginal struggles in this country will be familiar and striking.

In the 25 years since it was filmed, Narmada: A Valley Rises has not lost its power to move and inspire. Cameron Bailey, writing for NOW Magazine in 1994 wrote: “This film stands in the best tradition of committed film-making. For anyone worn down or cynical about social struggle, Narmada shows how it can be both effective and inspiring”.

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 at Alliance Française, 24 Spadina Road Buy Tickets

Guest speakers: Co-directors Nicolas Boisclair & Alexis de Gheldere
Featured ENGO: Ecoloodi
Co-presenters: Cinéfranco & Ecologos

Chercher le courant (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.

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Saturday, March 28 at the AGO Buy Tickets

Closing Night @ 7:00 PM

Guest speakers: Co-directors Anthony & Christine Powell (via Skype)
Featured ENGO: No Jets T.O.
Co-presenters: Planet in Focus & Ecologos

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.

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