Heather Hatch’s Wochiigii Io: End of Peace will open this year’s Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival (PiF). The festival unveiled its complete programming line-up yesterday and includes Nadine Pequeneza’s The Last of the Right Whales as its closing night selection. Wochiigii Io recently premiered to great acclaim at the Toronto International Film Festival for Hatch’s portrait of community pushback to the controversial Site C dam along the Peace River in British Columbia. The film is a story of Indigenous resilience and activism that is interconnected with a message about the need to fight to preserve the land for generations to come. PiF executive director Katherine Bruce called the doc “a timely, multilevel story, expressed in a single, equity inspired narrative.” The Last of the Right Whales recently debuted at the Calgary International Film Festival where it drew a strong response for its study of the giant mammals facing extinction.
Planet in Focus will run online again this year with an expanded line-up. This year’s festival mixes human rights tales with stories of environmental concern to demonstrate how many global concerns have roots in environmental causes. Other Canadian titles at the festival include Gloria Pancrazi’s Coextinction, which brings another whale tale to PiF with its study of Southern Resident Orcas in the Pacific Northwest. Shannon Walsh’s The Gig Is Up, which tackles the growing trend of “ghost workers” amid the temporary labour market, will have a Toronto encore following a launch at Hot Docs earlier this year. Hubert Caron-Guay and Serge-Olivier Rondeau’s Resources, meanwhile, observes the experiences of asylum seekers from Mexico as they navigate the manual labour market while starting over in Canada.
Features on the international front include Youth v. Gov, American director Christi Cooper’s compelling story of youth activists. Young people fighting for change also fuel the New Zealand production High Tide Don’t Hide by directors Niva Kay, Emily McDowell, Nia Phipps, and Phil Stebbing. Stories of the labour market from around the globe continue in director Nantenaina Lova’s Morning Star. The doc from Madagascar observes the toils of fishermen whose livelihoods are threatened by commercial fishing from Chinese trawlers. The festival also features a diverse sampling of short docs from Canada and around the world, including a spotlight on Indigenous perspectives.
Planet in Focus runs October 14 to 24. Get the complete line-up at PlanetInFocus.org.