Planet In Focus

Now in it’s 16th year running, Planet in Focus is an environmental media arts organization dedicated to showcasing films that question, explore and tell stories about the world we live in.

The Film Festival — based in Toronto — kicks off this Wednesday with Vandana Shiva, author, journalist, and global environmentalist.  

Over 50 films will be screened during the five-day festival. Some of these films raise questions the average human may not even consider, — the consequences of throwing out an old computer or cell phone for example.

Cosima Dannoritzer investigated the repercussions of electronic wastes through Europe, China, Africa and the United States. Her journey, documented in her film ‘The E-waste Tragedy,’ which will be shown at the festival, reveals a toxic global trade fuelled by greed and corruption.

Another such film is ‘Shadow of a Giant’ directed by Clark Ferguson. This tough investigative documentary explores the legacy of a once economic driver within Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, a gold mine operated by Giant. The gold is long gone but has left behind 237,000 tons of highly toxic contaminant, arsenic trioxide. Using animation, archival footage and interesting interview subjects, this film documents the serious health issues caused by the mine in a time where environmental remediation is taking baby steps.

This film festival will even showcase films that show different ways of life that embody self-sustainability. In the documentary, ‘Freak Out’ involving animation, archival footage and re-enactment, Swedish documentary filmmaker Carl Javér reveals the untold story of the origins of the alternative/counter-culture movement that started with radical thinkers and artists in Monte Verità, Switzerland. ‘Good Things Await’ is another film that will showcase during the festival that shows an alternative but controversial agriculturalist’s methods to farming in Denmark.

Once again, Planet in Focus will carry on their tradition of honouring Canadian and International individuals who have had a significant impact on raising awareness on environmental issues with the Eco-Heroes award. This year’s recipients of this award are Dr. Vandana Shiva and Amy Millan. Dr. Vandana Shiva has an exemplary record of advocating for change, peace, sustainability and social justice across the globe. Much of her life can has been spent defending biodiversity and indigenous knowledge particularly as it pertains to seeds, farming, human rights, and the anti-globalization movement. Amy Millan is a musician who has instigated numerous environmental campaigns. She leads the I Am A Seed Saver campaign to promote awareness of biodiversity, farmers’ rights and ecological agriculture. She also uses her place on stage to spread environmental awareness.

For more information about the Planet in Focus, visit their website.


Naomi Roy is an artist and a fourth year Planning student at the University of Waterloo. 

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