This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, an annual reminder of the importance of conserving and protecting our natural resources. In 2020, Earth Day aligns with National Canadian Film Day on April 22, so there is no better time to explore these Canadian films that address growing environmental concerns, both within Canada and around the world. While we are in an unprecedented time of self-isolation, it is still as essential as always to remain informed about the issues facing our planet.
We’ve compiled this list of 7 films that are sure to give you more of an insight into an issue you may otherwise not have been aware of. As you watch them, make sure to join the conversation online by using the hashtags #CanFilmDay and #EarthDay.
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
Now streaming on Crave.
In 2016, scientists declared that the Earth has entered a new geological era, one that is entirely the consequence of humanity’s abuse of the planet. This documentary goes around the world illustrating the variety of ways that humanity has affected its environment.
Following Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark, photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier conclude their award-winning trilogy with an urgent message to all the citizens of the world to see the consequences of our actions, before it’s too late.
Kayak to Klemtu
Now streaming on Crave.
When a prominent Kitasoo/Xai’Xais activist passes away, his 14-year-old niece Ella (Blaney) embarks on a kayak journey to take his ashes home to Klemtu. It’s a race against the clock as Ella tries to make it back in time to give a speech protesting a proposed pipeline that would cross Indigenous land.
Ella is joined by her aunt, cousin and grumpy uncle (Cardinal), as the four paddle with all their might through the Inside Passage and past the shores of the Great Bear Rainforest. Join this family on the adventure of a lifetime that reflects on the importance of protecting our lands for future generations.
Airing on CBC, April 22 at 4:00 PM.
In this powerful follow-up to his acclaimed documentary Sharkwater, Rob Stewart discovers that sharks aren’t the only ones in danger — climate change has a devastating impact on human life as well. Striking and vibrant landscapes are juxtaposed with startling proof that significant damage has already been done. At the same time, Stewart finds immense hope in the dedicated and passionate youth whose efforts are changing our future for the better.
Now streaming on Crave.
Rob Stewart’s final film brings another urgent message about shark conservation, as a new threat faces this misunderstood predator. While the inhumane practice of shark finning is being banned worldwide, Stewart goes deeper to find the pirates that continue to hunt sharks by manipulating legal loopholes. As beautifully shot and thrilling as his previous films, Sharkwater Extinction is an urgent call to action, in the face of a continuing decline in the worldwide shark population, with millions of sharks still being killed each year. This was Rob Stewart’s final film before he tragically passed away in 2017, and it stands as a lasting legacy of his activism and courage.
“[Stewart’s] passionate documentary, boasting stirring underwater photography and an equally poignant score, speaks urgently on his behalf.”
— Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
There’s Something in the Water
Now streaming on Netflix.
The term “environmental racism” may be unfamiliar to many, but its meaning is fairly literal. It refers to the discrimination minorities face when they are subjected to toxic levels of pollution, often because factories or waste sites are placed near their communities.
Elliot Page brings attention to these injustices in her home province of Nova Scotia in this urgent documentary about women fighting to protect their communities, their land, and their futures. Page travels to rural areas of the province that are plagued by toxic fallout from industrial development, discovering that these catastrophes have been precisely placed, all in remote, low income — and very often Indigenous or Black — communities. As the filmmakers observe, your postal code determines your health.
Available for streaming exclusively on April 22. Details to follow.
This touching documentary, narrated by Ryan Reynolds, tells the story of a young killer whale, Luna, who gets separated from his family on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. As rambunctious and surprising as a visitor from another planet, Luna endears himself to the community with his determination to make contact, leading to many unexpected consequences.
The Whale charts the community’s struggle to deal with Luna, since whales who are separated from their pods rarely survive in the wild. Raising more questions than it can answer, the film is a truly compelling exploration of our relationship with animals.
“The issues surrounding the emotional lives of animals — and the often presumptuous assumption of humans that they comprehend them — are explored in The Whale with a quiet dignity and gorgeous images.” — Andy Webster, New York Times
Wonders of the Arctic
Available on the website of the Canadian Museum of History courtesy of Giant Screen Films.
Wonders of the Arctic is a journey through the vast landscape of the Arctic, examining the increasing impacts of climate change. By going through the history of the exploration of the arctic, and seeing the current state of its residents (both human and animal), this short documentary has a profound statement about the need for action to preserve the natural state of this essential region of our planet.
With a runtime of 40 minutes, it is a great option for the whole family to watch and discuss. Available in both English and French, it can be accessed through the website of the Canadian Museum of History from April 17–24.