'Anthropocene' Documentary Shows How Humans Are Wreaking Havoc On The Planet

By Brooke Shuman
Huffington Post

“Anthropocene: The Human Epoch,” a documentary by filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and photographer Edward Burtynsky, is a nature story gone awry, a dazzling and at times nauseating document of the far-reaching, and possibly catastrophic, impact that humans have had on the planet. 

The film gets its title from the geological term “Anthropocene,” which was first coined in 2000 by atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen and ecologist Eugene Stoermer. In 2016, a group of geologists called the Anthropocene Working Group proposed that our planet has recently been so drastically altered by human activity that we are now living in a distinct geological era. (That’s why it’s called the Anthro-pocene, because humans made it.) Humans had been getting by in the Holocene epoch for 11,000 years since the last glacial age, but the Anthropocene Working Group claims that through farming, industrialization, massive excavation of minerals and the dumping of ton after ton of trash, we’ve created a new geological era. 

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Anthropocene: The Human Epoch | Inside the Documentary

Popcorn Talk

Join Frank Moran as he interviews filmmakers: Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, and Edward Burtynsky.

“Anthropocene” is defined as the current geological epoch in which humans are the primary cause of permanent planetary change. The upcoming documentary ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch is unflinching in its depiction of the destruction of the natural world, using extraordinary imagery from celebrated photographer Edward Burtynsky, who directed the film with Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier.

Watch the interview here.

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The Wonders and Terrors of Humanity’s Impact on Earth

By Laura Leavitt

Featuring stunning landscape photography, the documentary Anthropocene surveys a new era of human-driven geology.

The cult film Koyaanisqatsi, named after the Hopi idea of “life lived out of balance,” contains no dialogue, but rather scenes all over the world — of cities, nature, the tiniest industrially produced products, and the vastness of canyons. It’s experienced more as a guided meditation than a linear story. I thought of it when watching the new documentary Anthropocene: The Human Epoch. It follows the research of the Anthropocene Working Group, whose members believe that the Holocene geological epoch concluded around the middle of the 20th century. In its place is the Anthropocene, characterized by the way that humans shape Earth’s landscapes.

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Review: ‘Anthropocene: The Human Epoch’ delivers a powerful warning of a world in decline

By Robert Abele
Los Angeles Times

A movie thousands of years in the making, “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” takes cameras to where our consumptive need has most alarmingly re-engineered the planet. It’s also, in many ways, a document of a spiritual/environmental undoing.

Filming across a dozen countries, Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky continue the visual breadth of their previously observed warning shots about the scope of progress (“Manufactured Landscapes,” “Watermark”) with a reflective tour of excavation, industry and decimation that argues we’ve already moved into a new geological epoch owned entirely by us.

Dotted with alarming facts delivered in gravely intoned voice-over by Alicia Vikander, “Anthropocene” finds the terrible awe in town-destroying terraforming projects in Germany worked by earthmovers of “Mad Max”-like magnitude, the sweeping wretchedness of a city-sized African landfill scavenged by thousands of the poor working alongside sickly looking pelicans, and what the acid-caused bleaching of coral reefs looks like via time lapse photography.

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‘Anthropocene: The Human Epoch’ Review: Global Warnings

By Ben Kenigsberg
The New York Times

“Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” puts a frightening twist on the standard nature documentary. Rather than exalting the awesome beauty of landscapes or animals, it captures alarming ways in which that beauty has been disturbed.

The movie takes its cues from the research of the Anthropocene Working Group, a team of scientists who in 2016 recommended a formal declaration of the end of Earth’s Holocene epoch, which began as many as 12,000 years ago. They argued that we are now in a new geologic phase, the Anthropocene epoch — a time when humans now change the Earth more than all the planet’s natural processes combined.

The film, part of a multidisciplinary project by Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky, hops from continent to continent to depict the scale of those disruptions, which at times have an almost science fiction quality.

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The Photographer Capturing Mankind's Impact on Planet Earth

Video by Heather Sharpe and Laura Foster
BBC News

Edward Burtynsky travels the world trying to capture striking images of humanity's impact on the planet, from the fossil-like shapes left behind by drills in a Potash mine to the luminescent colours of lithium ponds.

The Canadian photographic artist has spent 40 years focusing on large-scale human activities such as mining, quarrying, agriculture and deforestation - but he says he doesn't see himself as an environmentalist.

His latest project, Anthropocene, is a collaboration with film-makers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier, exploring the idea proposed by some scientists that a geological epoch shaped by human activity has begun.

It includes a travelling exhibition, a book and feature-length documentary, which was premiered last year in Canada and goes on theatrical release in the US next week.

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Dramatic Photos Capture How Humans Have Changed the Earth

By Peter Carbonera | Newsweek

Anthropocene: The Human Epoch is a documentary film by Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier that paints a beautiful and terrifying picture of what human beings are doing to the Earth.

Since the early 1980s Burtynsky, a Canadian photographer, has been documenting what he calls "intentional landscapes," the big and lasting marks that human activities like mining and farming are making on the planet. The film is the third collaboration between Burtynsky and documentary filmmakers Baichwal and de Pencier—the first was Manufactured Landscapes (2006) followed by Watermark (2013)—and is a companion to a coffee-table book of large photographs and a touring museum exhibit. The documentary opened in the United States on September 25.

The title comes from a word used by some geologists to describe the period of natural history we are all living in right now. It was popularized by Paul Crutzen, a Dutch Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist who has studied climate change. During the 1980s, Burtynsky says, Crutzen realized, "We as a species have for the first time been such a force on the planet that we have moved it from one geological epoch to another. We have now created a footprint that has left its signature in the future strata of the planet so geologists a million years from now if they dig something up they'll say, 'This is from the anthropocene, when humans on the planet were the dominant species.'"

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ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch Nominated for Allan King Award for Excellence in Documentary

Canadian Newswire

TORONTO, Sept. 12, 2019 /CNW/ - The DGC is pleased to announce the full 2019 DGC Awards nominees for Feature Film, Documentary, Short Film, Television Series, and Movies for Television and Mini-Series. Selected from over 300 submissions, the nominees represent a spectrum of talent, genres and diversity in the screen-based industry.

The Awards will be presented at the annual DGC Awards Gala on Saturday, October 26, 2019 at The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto.

"Each year, our feature film submissions are more and more impressive than the last," said DGC President Tim Southam. "This work is a reminder that Canadian talent and production are second to none."

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How Is Disaster Photography Sublime?

By Mary Huber
Frieze Magazine

In an age of image saturation and climate change, photographs of destruction no longer affect us the way they once did

Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky’s large-scale landscapes of industrial sites will be the subject of Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, a feature-length documentary to be released in September 2019. The artist sees his work as tapping into an updated idea of the sublime, an overwhelming technological, as opposed to natural, force. ‘I wouldn’t consider this work “disaster photography”’, Burtynsky told me.

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This stunning new film captures how humans have reshaped every part of the Earth

By Eillie Anzilotti
Fast Company

The new documentary Anthropocene: The Human Epoch doesn’t waste any time getting to the point: For the first minute of the film, all we see are flames. It’s mesmerizing, in a way, the same way that a fire burning in a hearth on a cold night inevitably draws our gaze. But this blaze is underpinned with a sense of horror: In the last few seconds before the scene cuts, we see that it’s burning something—it’s hard to tell what, but we know it’s important, and we know that it’s something to do with our collective future that we’re ruining.

“Anthropocene,” after all, is the proposed name for a new geological epoch that humanity has created by the changes and destruction we’ve wrought on the planet. “Humans now change the Earth and its systems more than all natural processes combined,” narrates actor Alicia Vikander at the documentary’s beginning. The film, which will be released on September 25 and which was directed by photographer Edward Burtynsky along with Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier—whose workon the same subject inspired the movie—traces the scope of human ambition and its consequences across the globe.

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September: 5 photographic exhibitions not to be missed in Italy

Vogue Italia

For those who have already returned to the city after the summer holidays but have no intention of stopping to travel, even if only by thinking, we would like to point out 5 photography exhibitions not to be missed. From Milan to Nuoro, passing through Genoa, Bologna and Spilimbergo, there are many proposals to learn about distant and close worlds, discover exciting stories and reflect on the health of the planet through the lens of photographic language.


Anthropocene - Mast Foundation

Until January 5, 2020

In these times when we witness powerless, poised between anger and disbelief, some questions become more and more pressing to the fires in the Amazon: what are we doing to our planet? How did we get to this point and what future awaits us? Photographs of Edward Burtynsky and movies of award-winning filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier on display at Mast Foundation in Bologna could help us find some answers.

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Kino Lorber Teams With Kanopy For Special Theatrical Run Of Climate Change Docu ‘Anthropocene: The Human Epoch’

By Dino-Ray Ramos

EXCLUSIVE: The climate change documentary Anthropocene: The Human Epoch is just as much a visual marvel as it is a call to action. Kino Lorber is partnering with the streaming platform Kanopy to bring the feature docu to over 100 theaters nationwide on September 25 to coincide with the U.N. Climate Action Summit and Climate Week NYC in an effort to combat man-made climate change. In addition, Anthropocene will be available for streaming on Kanopy starting January 1, 2020.

From Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky, the docu is narrated by Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander and screened at Sundance, Berlin and the Toronto International Film Festival to critical acclaim. Taking four years to make, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch follows the research of an international body of scientists, the Anthropocene Working Group which, after nearly 10 years of research, is investigating how the Holocene Epoch gave way to the Anthropocene Epoch in the mid-twentieth century as a result of the profound and lasting changes humankind has made to the Earth. The film traverses the globe using state of the art camera techniques to document the evidence and experience of human planetary domination. At the intersection of art and science, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch witnesses a critical moment in geological history — bringing a provocative and unforgettable experience of our species’ breadth and impact.

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The Anthropocene Project at the MAST Foundation in Bologna: A Wake-up Call to Save the Planet

By Nicolò Gallio

When was the last time you felt mesmerised and guilty at the same time, while looking at a piece of art? It happened to me last Saturday more than once when I was visiting the Anthropocene exhibition at the MAST Foundation in Bologna. I knew I was going to experience an impactful show given the topics – pollution, deforestation, mining, climate change, urbanization – but did not fully realise the beauty that came across the powerful images captured by the cameras of world-renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky and award-winning directors/producers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier.

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What Internet Memes Get Wrong About Breezewood, Pennsylvania

By Amanda Hurley

It’s summer, and for hundreds of thousands of Americans, that means at least one burger-and-bathroom break in Breezewood, Pennsylvania. This half-mile gauntlet of gas stations, fast-food outlets, and motels, its oversized signs towering above the surrounding countryside, is familiar to anyone who has to drive regularly from the East Coast to the Midwest or vice versa.

As the New York Times explained in 2017, Pennsylvania’s “Gas Vegas”sprang up because of an obsolete law. Breezewood is a deliberately awkward transition between Interstate 70 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where they (almost) meet. Back in the 1950s, as I-70 was being built, a law prohibited spending federal funds to channel drivers directly from a free road to a toll road. The law was later overturned, but to comply with it, highway planners designed a looping interchange that lets drivers avoid the turnpike if they (hypothetically) want to. From this constant stream of slow-moving traffic, a mega-rest-stop was born.

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Our planet's future: are we doomed or is there hope?

CBC Ideas

In Paul Kennedy's final week at IDEAS, he looks back at his four decades with the program. We begin the series with an episode inspired by the Muskoka Summit on the Environment, an event Paul has moderated since 2010.

Paul has long had a passion for stories about the environment. Having grown up in St. Catharines, Ontario. he saw firsthand the impact of industry on the surrounding landscape.

For this program, Paul invited three guests to join him on stage for a live event at the Glenn Gould — photographer Ed Burtynsky, microbiologist Nadia Mykytczuk, and Henry Lickers, Environmental Science Officer for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. 

Paul asked the panel two basic questions about our collective future: are we doomed? And what inspires hope?

Listen to the full episode here.

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Edward Burtynsky photos at Cleveland Museum of Art document mankind’s troubled relationship with water

By Steven Litt
The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Anyone can get the big picture on our planet in the age of drone photography and Google Earth.

But Edward Burtynsky isn’t just anyone. The 64-year-old Canadian photographer has made a specialty of producing sublime and provocative landscapes from elevated viewpoints that include construction lifts, small airplanes, helicopters, drones and a pneumatic mast equipped with a remotely operated camera.

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Envisioning the Anthropocene

By Esther Hershkovits
Good Trouble Magazine

Over the last five years, three visual artists documented the staggering state of our current geological epoch - ‘The Anthropocene’ - collaborating with a research team of scientists to investigate our indelible signature on the planet.

The Anthropocene Project is a multidisciplinary body of work from world-renowned artists Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky and Jennifer Baichwal. Through September 22, 2019, Fondazione MAST showcases their collaborative work. Good Trouble spoke to one of the artists, Edward Burtynsky, about the philosophy of the project/exhibit and its implications for the future.

How do you define the Anthropocene?

As part of the Anthropocene book, we wrote a glossary of terms that we had approved by the Anthropocene Working Group. “Anthropocene” is defined as follows: the proposed current geological epoch, at present informal, in which humans are the primary cause of permanent planetary change.

“Our mission would be to evangelize the word ‘Anthropocene’, raise awareness for the issues it presented, and bring both the word and its implications forward in people’s consciousness.”

When did you first hear about the term “Anthropocene” and what was your initial reaction? 

We have been aware of the word and concept for well over a decade, and it was when we were wrapping up Watermark that Jennifer suggested that this is what we should title our next project. I wondered if a project titled with an unfamiliar term could be successful. It was then that we decided our mission would be to evangelize the word Anthropocene, raise awareness for the issues it presented, and bring both the word and its implications forward in people’s consciousness.

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Oh Dear: Photos Show What Humans Have Done To The Planet

By Jonathan Lambert and Rebecca Ellis

Humans have made an indelible mark on the planet. Since the mid-20th century, we've accelerated the digging of mines, construction of dams, expansion of cities and clearing of forests for agriculture — activity that will be visible in the geological record for eons to come.

Some scientists are calling it the Anthropocene era, or the age of the humans ("anthropos" is Greek for human).

Photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier were inspired by this ongoing discussion of the debate over this new geological era. These three Canadian artists traveled to 22 countries to research and document "places of obvious, physical human incursions on the landscape," says filmmaker de Pencier.

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Anthropocene, L’impronta Umana Sulla Terra

By Daniele Del Moro
Green Planet News

Alla FONDAZIONE MAST [Manifattura di Arti, Sperimentazione e Tecnologia] di Bologna arriva in anteprima in Europa la mostra che indaga l’impatto dell’uomo sul pianeta attraverso le straordinarie immagini di Edward Burtynsky, i filmati di Jennifer Baichwal e Nicholas de Pencier e le esperienze immersive di realtà aumentata

Anthropocene, la mostra multimediale, foto, video e quant’altro, che vuole documentare la traccia umana sul nostro povero pianeta. Ci sarà da ridere? Oppure da piangere? Sarà una messa in stato di accusa col dito puntato sul famigerato bipede o forse una mano tesa tra umani pensanti che ancora hanno a cuore le sorti di Base Terra?

Di certo, la mostra Anthropocene, a ingresso gratuito, curata da Sophie Hackett, Andrea Kunard, Urs Sthael, per la prima volta in Italia, a Bologna al MAST fino al 22 settembre 2019, costituisce una seria base di riflessione per farci tutti una domanda: amiamo la vita e dunque il terreno su cui calchiamo i nostri consumati passi?

La mostra, esplorando gli effetti delle attività umane sul Pianeta, si inscrive nel progetto artistico dellaFondazione MAST che dal 2013 conduce una riflessione approfondita sul rapporto tra l’uomo e il mondo del lavoro attraverso esposizioni di fotografia [tratte dalla collezione di Fondazione MAST o provenienti da musei, archivi e raccolte private], che raccontano il settore produttivo, le comunità dei mestieri e l’occupazione in genere.

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