Now Streaming: Borealis Will Make Tree Planters Of Us All


By Patrick Mullen

Kevin McMahon is no stranger to the power of a good environmental film after docs like Waterlife and Spaceship Earth. His latest doc, Borealis, which is now streaming for free from the NFB, sees art and activism finely intertwined with a truly cinematic essay on the Canadian wilderness. The film goes deep within the boreal forest to consider a life force for the planet—trees—and the looming threat to all living things if the woodland disappears. But it’s ultimately an optimistic portrait of the relationship with humans that the planet they share.

“You can’t afford to not have hope,” said McMahon, speaking with Madeline Lines for POV this week. “The one thing you can do when you think about what’s happening to trees, is to plant a tree. It’s easy, anybody can do it, and you can do it pretty much anywhere. It’s an inherently hopeful act. At the end of Borealis, the last few shots are of dead trees, and then, new fresh trees being born.”

Watch Borealis for free below from the NFB and read more about the film in our interview with McMahon.

Borealis, Kevin McMahon, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Synopsis: In his new feature documentary Borealis, acclaimed director Kevin McMahon (Waterlife) travels deep into the heart of the boreal forest to explore the chorus of life in Canada’s iconic wilderness. How do trees move, communicate and survive the destructive forces of fire, insects, and human encroachment? Borealis offers an immersive portrait of the lifecycles of the forest from the perspective of the plants and animals that live there.