Review: ‘Chasing Coral’

Hot Docs 2017

2 mins read

Chasing Coral
(USA, 93 min.)
Dir. Jeff Orlowsi
Programme: Special Presentations (International Premiere)


In a cinematic landscape teeming with environmental advocacy docs calling attention to the woes of climate change, Chasing Coral manages to stand apart from the pack by focussing on a part of the planet witnessed by only a select few. The splendour of a coral reef is for many the stuff of children’s cartoons or vacation snorkeling, but for scientists, avid divers, fisherpeople and activists, they are not only the largest living systems on our world but also harbingers for the radical changes being made on our planet.

What began as a project to setup automated camera systems to capture “bleaching,” or the rapid death of coral colonies, soon became a cross continental trek to bring these images to a wider audience. The film’s central tenet, that to merely read or hear of climate change in the abstract is insufficient, and only by having viewers witness the destruction visually can real action be fostered, makes for quite a polemical piece. The imagery that they manage to capture is compelling, and their travails in getting the systems to work is fascinating. By capturing in the tragic tale of the coral one of the largest mass-deaths in recorded history for coral, Jeff Orlowski’s work transcends any of its filmmaking shortcomings (such as predictability and repetition) by serving its primary intent: rallying the troops, informing the public, and bringing to light the very real challenges the Earth’s oceans are facing.

Find showtimes here.


Jason Gorber is a film journalist and member of the Toronto Film Critics Association. He is the Managing Editor/Chief Critic at and a regular contributor for POV Magazine, and CBC Radio. His has written for Slashfilm, Esquire, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Screen Anarchy, HighDefDigest, Birth.Movies.Death, IndieWire and more. He has appeared on CTV NewsChannel, CP24, and many other broadcasters. He has been a jury member at the Reykjavik International Film Festival, Calgary Underground Film Festival, RiverRun Film Festival, TIFF Canada's Top 10, Reel Asian and Fantasia's New Flesh Award. Jason has been a Tomatometer-approved critic for over 20 years.

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