Programme

ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH

Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky

Canada, 2018 / 87 min / OV with English subt. (OV with EN subt.) / Documentary

A large-scale look at how humans are causing permanent planetary change.

Anthropocene: The Human Epoch follows the research of an international body of scientists who, after nearly 10 years of research, are arguing that we have left the Holocene and reached an unprecedented moment in planetary history in which humans affect the Earth and its processes more than all other natural forces combined: the Anthropocene. From concrete seawalls in China that now cover 60% of the mainland coast, to the biggest terrestrial machines ever built in Germany, to psychedelic potash mines in Russia’s Ural Mountains, to metal festivals in the closed city of Norilsk, to the devastated Great Barrier Reef in Australia and surreal lithium evaporation ponds in the Atacama desert, the filmmakers have travelled to six continents and twenty different countries to capture stunning images chronicling the catastrophic path travelled by our species over the last century. From terraforming of the Earth, rising CO2 levels and ocean acidification, to the pervasive presence of plastics around the globe: these human incursions, are so massive in scope that they have already entered, and will endure in, geological time.

ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch is a mesmerizing and disturbing rumination on what drives us as a species, and a call to wake up to the destruction caused by our dominance.” Danis Goulet, Toronto International Film Festival

 

Screenings

“This characteristically masterful collaboration between documentarians Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier and legendary photographer Edward Burtynsky isn’t so much eye-opening as mind-blowing as it essays our unprecedented impact on the Earth to stunning effect. […] Filmmaking of the highest order that unfolds on a dizzying, almost inconceivable scale, ANTHROPOCENE will forever change the way you see the world.” Vancouver International Film Festival

“This riveting film is narrated by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander with a voice of rage and sorrow. She notes that the current Anthropocene Epoch, identified and named by scientists to describe humanity’s increasing toll upon the planet, has seen human-caused changes to the Earth and its systems exceed the combined effects of all naturally occurring processes.” Peter Howell, Toronto Star, 27/09/2018

“The latest film is the culmination of a major body of work and it’s as visually stunning and intellectually invigorating as the previous two films are. Anthropocene, admittedly, is also a film they’ve made before—although they’ve never quite made a film on such an astonishing scale as this one. […] Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) explains the human epoch in layman’s terms while the images present the awesome scope of humanity’s destructiveness. Landing Vikander is an impressive coup for this production, and further proof of the significance of the trilogy in addressing environmental concerns. The didactic National Geographic style narration, while used sparingly, isn’t really necessary because the imagery is so powerful.” Pat Mullen, POV Magazine, 13/09/2018

Cast & Credits
Cast 
Alicia Vikander
Screenplay 
Jennifer Baichwal
Cinematographer 
Nicholas de Pencier
Sound 
David Rose
Music 
Rose Bolton, Norah Lorway
Production 
Mercury Films
Distribution 
Seville International
Biography

Jennifer Baichwal has been directing and producing documentaries for over 20 years. Her films have played all over the world and won multiple awards internationally, including an International Emmy, 3 Gemini Awards, and Best Cultural and Best Independent Canadian Documentary at Hot Docs. Her fourth feature, Manufactured Landscapes (2006), won, among others, TIFF’s Best Canadian Film and Al Gore’s Reel Current Award. It played theatrically in over 15 territories worldwide. Her 2013 follow-up documentary Watermark premiered at TIFF, and won the Toronto Film Critics Association prize for Best Canadian Film. It has since been released in eleven countries. Baichwal is a member of the Ryerson University School of Image Arts Advisory Council. She has been a director of the board of the Toronto International Film Festival since 2016, and is a passionate ambassador of their Share Her Journey campaign, a five-year commitment to increasing participation, skills, and opportunities for women behind and in front of the camera. Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (2018) is the culmination of the documentary trilogy on humanity’s impact on Earth started with Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark.

Nicholas de Pencier is a documentary director, producer, and director of photography. He was the producer and director of photography of Watermark (2013) and Black Code (2016), about the Internet’s global impact on free speech and privacy, which he also wrote and directed. Together with Jennifer Baichwal, he created several video art installations that shed light on their film projects from a different angle. Most recently, Pencier and Baichwal were co-directors (and Pencier DOP too) of Long Time Running (2017), a feature documentary on the Tragically Hip’s iconic 2016 summer tour. Produced by Banger Films, the film was a Gala presentation at TIFF 2017, then subsequently released by Elevation Pictures and broadcast by Bell and Netflix. Pencier is on the board of directors of Hot Docs and DOC Toronto.

Born in Ontario and having studied photography at the Ryerson University in Toronto, Edward Burtynsky is known as one of the world's most respected photographers. His remarkable photographic depictions of global industrial landscapes are included in the collections of over sixty major museums around the world, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California. His imagery explores the collective impact we as a species are having on the surface of the planet; an inspection of the human systems we’ve imposed onto natural landscapes. Burtynsky’s distinctions include the Outreach award at the Rencontres d’Arles, the Roloff Beny Book award, and the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award for Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (2018). He sits on the board of directors for CONTACT: Toronto’s International Photography Festival, The Ryerson Gallery and Research Center. In 2006 he was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of Canada. He currently holds eight honorary doctorate degrees. After collaborating with Jennifer Baichwal on Watermark in 2013, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch is his second feature documentary as director.

Filmography
  • Jennifer Baichwal
  • 2018 – Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (documentary)
  • 2017 – Long Time Running (documentary)
  • 2013 – Watermark (documentary)
  • 2012 – Payback (documentary)
  • 2009 – Act of God (documentary)
  • 2006 – Manufactured Landscapes (documentary)
  • 2002 – The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams' Appalachia (documentary)
  • 1999 – The Holier It Gets (documentary)
  • 1998 – Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles (documentary)
  • Nicholas de Pencier
  • 2018 – Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (documentary)
  • 2017 – Long Time Running (documentary)
  • 2016 – Black Code (documentary)
  • 2009 – Nova: The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies (1 episode of the TV documentary series)
  • 2008 – Mighty Ships (episodes of the TV documentary series)
  • 2007 – Four Wings and a Prayer (documentary)
  • 2003 – Five Doors (short)
  • 1998 – Dances for a Small Screen: Motel (short)
  • Edward Burtynsky
  • 2018 – Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (documentary)
  • 2013 – Watermark (documentary)