NEWS HUB

The Sundance Film Festival’s anticipated premieres include the Canadian documentary Anthropocene and a making-of doc about Alien

By Peter Howell
Toronto Star

The 2019 Sundance Film Festival will take moviegoers from the Earth to the moon and to the deepest part of space where no one can hear you scream.

Robert Redford’s annual independent film showcase in Park City, Utah, running Jan. 24 to Feb. 3, could be called a “Triple A” event for three of its most anticipated offerings: the Canadian-made environmental exposé Anthropocene, a 50th-anniversary revisiting of the Apollo 11 lunar achievement and a making-of documentary on the horror classic Alien.

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Sprawling Anthropocene project shows humanity’s enormous impact on the planet

By Murray Whyte
Toronto Star

The camera sweeps slowly, right to left, along a towering ridge of ochre stone. The sense is of the monumental — the kind of majesty and scale that only the primal force of violent nature, operating at planetary scale, could yield.

Then you see it, and the world turns suddenly sideways: An enormous, churning machine enters the frame, like some kind of apocalyptic ferris wheel, carving grooves into the cliffside with its set of jagged claws. That towering bluff of dusty earth seems to shrink before your eyes as it yields to the clanking monstrosity gnawing at its hide.

But it’s not the only thing taking a hit here. That built-in sense of feeling tiny and insignificant in the face of nature’s grandeur has been turned thoroughly upside-down. As the scene makes clear, the dominant force shaping the planet at is most colossal scale is now us.

That’s the shorthand version of the thesis for Anthropocene, a film and a set of sprawling exhibitions — one at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the other at the National Gallery of Canada — that opened simultaneously this weekend. Taken together, they’re a full-blooded collaboration from photographer Edward Burtynsky and the filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier, which, while not a new partnership for any of them, is the most seamless one yet.

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ANTHROPOCENE shows fierce beauty of rapidly collapsing Earth

By Peter Howell
Toronto Star

★★★★

ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch — a companion piece to exhibitions of the same name opening Friday at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery in Ottawa — is rife with such horrors, yet there’s a fierce beauty to the work of Baichwal, Burtynsky and de Pencier. They travel the world with an artful lens that makes human constructions seem awe-inspiring — but only from a distance.

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Edward Burtynsky’s environmental themes emerge with a harmonious new context at the Art Gallery of Hamilton

By Murray Whyte
Toronto Star 

Edward Burtynsky’s great big photographs ooze uncomfortable truth, though the artist himself, careful not to preach, once took a more ambivalent stance. But at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, where a few dozen of the 76 pictures he recently donated to the museum are now on view, an unintended synergy freights even his earliest images with the unleavened urgency they demand. Terrible beauty, Burtynsky’s esthetic calling card, remains present, never fear. But these days, terror comes first.

The Burtynsky show, Witness, is surrounded by Water Works, an engaging, alarming exhibition that largely concerns itself with the accreting perils of depleting, poisoning or otherwise contaminating our most precious resource. The AGH, for its part, cries coincidence, but, seriously: To get to his pictures, you have to first walk right through it. Taken together, they send alarm bells ringing: Effect, meet cause.

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