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Stephen Leahy's four docs for Earth Day

Stephen Leahy's four docs for Earth Day

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April 22nd, 2020

FRIENDS is sharing recommendations for great Canadian content to lighten the load of our shared experience during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Help us share these Canadian gems with even more people and support Canadian artists during the pandemic. Become a patron today.

Stephen Leahy's four docs for Earth Day

Today's Guest Curator is Stephen Leahy, an environmental journalist who has been writing for National Geographic, The Guardian and other publications for over 20 years. His book, Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products, was selected as 2014’s Best Science Book in Canada. He has also written several articles for FRIENDS on the role of media in addressing climate change. In honour of Earth Day, Stephen recommends four visually stunning documentaries to watch at home. While global social isolation measures have helped some countries curb the spread of COVID–19, there is an unexpected knock-on effect: drastic improvements to the natural environment. The waters in Venice's canals are now clear, people in India can see the peaks of the Himalayas from over 100 miles away, and the European Space Agency reported a 40% drop in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in Europe and Asia compared to the same period in 2019. Watching these documentaries while social distancing will drive home a simple fact: humanity's impact on the environment is not an abstract concept. — Shazlin Rahman

Metamorphosis is the perfect film for this year's Earth Day in coronavirus lockdown. “Slowness is needed in order to transform the world,” says one interviewee, while another notes that we humans underestimate our capacity for change. With stunning visuals and thought-provoking commentary from artists, scientists, farmers, activists and others, this film by Nova Ami and Velcrow Ripper explores why a societal and cultural metamorphosis is needed, and shows innovative examples of transformation. My favourite: turning swimming pools into vegetable gardens. — Stephen Leahy

*The film is available to subscribers of the NFB's CAMPUS service (free for all teachers until June 30) and to BC residents through the Knowledge Network. A 52-minute television version can be streamed for free on TVO.

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Sharkwater (119 minutes) and Sharkwater Extinction (114 minutes)

Sharkwater, the 2006 documentary written and directed by Rob Stewart still holds up. Raw and moving, with some spectacular underwater photography, it’s a personal story of a young Canadian trying to prevent the extinction of sharks. The film and Stewart’s passion raised global awareness about shark finning and led to some countries banning the practice. Stewart died while filming the 2018 sequel Sharkwater Extinction; Canada banned the import of shark fins shortly after. — SL

You can rent Sharkwater on YouTube or Google Play. *Sharkwater Extinction is available to subscribers on Crave.



More ways to connect to stay home and stay connected:

Selected as the Best Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs in 2015, this is a story of a mixed community of Indigenous Haida and people from elsewhere finding ways to live sustainably in a beautiful and remote part of Canada. However, this remoteness doesn’t mean unconnected from the rest of the world. — SL

Watch Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World for free on the Knowledge Network.

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