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Must Watch Foodie Films at Toronto’s Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival


When it comes to bringing food and the environment together under one banner, look no further than the Planet In Focus Environmental Film Festival taking place this weekend in Toronto from October 19-22. Heading into its 18th year, the Planet In Focus banner has established programming throughout the year dedicated to producing cultural events that showcase engaging and artistic films that question, explore, and tell stories about the world in which we live.

“Planet In Focus is always dedicated to exploring the nature of our impact on the environment. And that impact, as we’ve seen with the submissions this year, can take on a lot of different forms, from food to nuclear energy, we have a lot of different content this year. The festival is a great way to tie in the year round programming that we do, and hopefully our efforts have people coming away with a fresh perspective on topics that we discuss everyday amongst friends and family,” says festival programmer Julian Carrington.

Here are our top picks at this years Planet In Focus Environmental Film Festival:

Can You Dig This?

Vibrant and full of life, Can You Dig This tells the story of farmer Ron Finley and how he’s creating an impact on South Central Los Angeles because of his community garden initiatives. The film, directed by Delila Vallot, follows three other members of these Los Angeles communities who have been positively impacted by “planting.”

Food Coop

A hilarious look at a Brooklyn co-operative supermarket, with the basic premise is that you have to be a member to shop and every member must work for 2 hours and 45 minutes every 4 weeks. Food Coop felt very surreal at times, and had a spoof like vibe to its proceedings but everything is real and flows surprisingly well. It’s shot with a fly-on-the-wall approach which add to the realism but instead heightens the surrealist nature of the entire film.

 

The Last Pig

The Last Pig is a film dedicated to asking questions about ethical pig farming, and if there is such a thing as a good way of raising animals for slaughter. The film, directed by Emmy award-winning filmmaker Allison Argo, follows ethical pig farmer Bob Comis and his contemplation of transition out of raising animals for slaughter. It’s a very intimate look at how we view pigs and animals in general as a very generic commodity instead of the intelligent creatures they are. The Last Pig is a film that will definitely get you to rethink your love for bacon, at least for a little while.

Wasted! The Story of Food Waste

I loved Wasted! In part because I’m a giant fan of Anthony Bourdain, but also because it felt honest, frustrated and urgent. This sense of urgency comes from the fact that Wasted! presents a lot of different solutions to the problem of just how much food North Americans waste. But it’s also really well shot and boasts thought provoking visuals.

Modified

In Aube Giroux’s feature film, we are privy to her participation in activist movements pushing for better descriptors of genetically modified foods. Modified not only touches upon the nature of how and what we eat, but the ways in which activism are taught and learned through family dynamics. With interviews from Jane Goodall and Rachel Parent, Modified does a great job of imparting knowledge while also remaining entertaining.

Plastic China

Plastic China is another entry in the Planet in Focus festival exploring our impact on the environment through capitalism and our obsession with packaging. As China has become the biggest importer of North American plastic waste, Plastic China follows a few different families employed by the industry, showing their living conditions and the harsh environments they’re forced to work in. As someone cognoscente about the waste I produce, Plastic China was an eye opening experience and made me double down on my commitment to living as waste free as possible.

 

Unfractured

The selection team at Planet in Focus made a great choice by selecting Unfractured as its opening night film. Not only will audiences get to enjoy a Q&A with the subject of the film Dr. Sandra Steingraber but director Chanda Chevannes will also be on hand to talk about the film. Unfractured is a moving experience chock full of wisdom, pain and determination. And right in the middle of it stands Dr. Steingraber. The film documents her speaking out against fracking and being arrested for protesting the industrialization of the Finger Lakes. While the film documents her successes, what makes Unfractured so fascinating is that it also looks at the toll activism and her fight for environmental sustainability takes over her personal life, showing viewers the sacrifices one has to make in order to speak up for something they believe in.

The Day The Sun Fell

In school most students were taught on a broad scale about Hiroshima and the nuclear radiation poisoning, a atrocious side effect from the atom bomb. In The Day The Sun Fell, director Aya Domenig shows us the personal cost of nuclear radiation, not only from Hiroshima but from the 2011 reactor meltdown in Fukushima. This is a film that takes a subject I believed I knew a lot about, and continuously flipped that notion on its head. I came away from The Day The Sun fell with my head swimming with new information I needed to process.

By Devin Jones

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