NEWS HUB

Review: Anthropocene is a shocking and beautiful documentary

By Kate Taylor
The Globe and Mail

★★★★

Vast rectangular ponds of foul yellow water lie evaporating in the Chilean desert; they will produce the lithium that powers electric-car batteries. A gorgeous red-and-grey rock is imprinted with an eye-catching circular pattern: It’s the mark of Russian potash mining, extracting one of the fertilizers that is permanently altering the composition of the Earth’s soil. Anthropocene: The Human Epoch is packed with such shattering images and astounding ironies. As documentarians Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier pursue their collaboration with photographer Edward Burtynsky in a third film (following Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark), they strike a delicate yet purposeful balance between observation and advocacy. Both shocking and beautiful, the film impresses itself on the viewer with the awesome scale of the imagery – and with the urgency behind it. We have entered an epoch in which human activity is shaping the planet more than any natural force. Anthropocene bears witness that something’s got to give.

The film Anthropocene: The Human Epoch opens Friday in Toronto, Oct. 5 in Vancouver, Oct. 19 in Montreal and through the fall in other cities.

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Anthropocene art show and documentary will shock you with a view of human impact on the planet

By Kate Taylor
The Globe and Mail

The project, which includes not only a new documentary but also two museum exhibitions and an art book, gives a chilling, yet sometimes beautiful, examination of the indelible and spreading mark of human activity on the planet.

Like some eerie sculpture, a dome-shaped pile of elephant tusks glimmers in a darkened gallery. It’s a non-existent thing, the virtual recreation of a huge cache of contraband ivory burned to ashes two years ago.

Poaching is pushing the African elephant to the brink, yet another example of our species' pervasive impact on the planet. The indelible and spreading mark of human activity is the meaning of the term Anthropocene and the theme of a four-year collaboration between award-winning landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky and the documentary filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. Following on their environmental films Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark, the Anthropocene project includes not only a new documentary but also two museum exhibitions and an art book.

To produce it, the trio visited every continent except Antarctica, stopping in 20 different countries. One of those countries was Kenya where in 2016 their cameras recorded an unusual event: the burning of 100 tonnes of elephant tusks and rhino horns by government officials. Determined to save these species by demonstrating to poachers that the ivory and horn is worthless unless attached to a living animal, the Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta set light to the largest pile.

Read the full article here.

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TIFF 2018: Will the wait be worth it for Dolan, Arcand and Burtynsky?

By Kate Taylor 
The Globe and Mail 

It takes money, time and persistence to get a movie made in any country but in Canada the task can feel like moving a mountain. I’m looking forward to the slate of Canadian films at the Toronto International Film Festival this year and in particular I am eager to see three titles with prolonged gestation periods. One was stuck in post-production for many months; another is the culmination of a director’s life work and the third … well, you could say it’s a project forged over the centuries.

That last one is Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, a non-fiction film by Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier arguing that we have entered a new geological epoch in which human activity is the main force shaping the planet. Massive-scale industrialization and development are now permanently changing the air, water and land.

Read the full article here.

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How an art book helped catapult Edward Burtynsky’s career

The Globe and Mail

What a difference a book makes.

Edward Burtynsky was an established Canadian photographer who didn’t have much in the way of an international profile. Then along came the publication, in 2003, of Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky, tied in with his touring National Gallery of Canada exhibition. When the book, co-published by the National Gallery and Yale University Press, landed on shelves in major bookstores and museums around the world, the St. Catharines, Ont., native immediately felt the impact.

“All of a sudden I was getting calls from Europe. I was getting calls from the States,” Mr. Burtynsky recalls. “They were all saying, ‘This is really interesting and important work. How did I not know about you?’ ”

Read the full article here.

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