Fine film isn't the only art you'll see at the Water Docs Film Festival
Film, storytelling and the arts have long held a unique power to bridge an understanding of facts with motivation to take action. They enable us to connect with difficult realities without pushing us away, providing a foundation to build pathways for meaningful change.
Discover how the Water Docs Film Festival has become a platform for audiences to engage with the arts in Toronto. Here are a few of the encounters people have had with the arts at the Water Docs Film Festival.
A Wave Forged in Fire: Water Warrior Award
In 2018, we launched the inaugural Water Docs Water Warrior Award, which will be presented annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to protecting and raising awareness about threats and issues faced by water. We wanted to ensure that the physical award itself was a meaningful reflection of how art and activism together inspire change. We immediately thought of Aurora Darwin, a local Toronto glass artist who had been involved with our festival in 2017 where she shared her art with our audience, inspired by her canoe journey in the Yukon portrayed in The Peel Project.
We commissioned her to create a stunning glass wave, forged in fire, to present to our annual Water Warrior Award recipients. The video below shares a glimpse into the process behind how she created this gorgeous work of art. Learn more...
Virtual Reality Experiences with Pop-up VR
Audiences were plunged beneath the waves at the 2019 Water Docs Film Festival with three incredibly beautiful virtual reality experiences run in partnership with Pop-up VR:
VR stations enhance and amplify invaluable perspectives surrounding water issues.
Established in 2016, Pop-Up VR is one of the longest operating VR companies in Canada. Pioneers in the emerging and disruptive VR market, they have been providing thousands of users with the best possible virtual reality experience.
Using research into how audiences react and engage with VR has given them unparalleled insight into what will makes a user experience stand out and be remembered long after it’s done.
Nicola Pratt Photography
During the Water Docs Film Festival opening night reception, we had a series of Nicola Pratt’s stunning photographs on display.
Nicola is a photographer from the Toronto area. She always aims to be visual storyteller and create an emotional response through her work. Her style has been described as evocative and ethereal. Many of Nicola’s images use water as a medium. Nicola describes being near water as therapeutic and meditative…the place she feels most alive and at home. Nicola’s work is frequently recognized and awarded in photography contests and forums. You can follow Nicola’s work on Instagram.
“I have always found being near water calming and meditative, which in turns provides clarity of thought. My image entitled “Lucidity” captures exactly that sentiment - taking time near water to reflect, contemplate, and find tranquility. Through my images, I aim to portray the emotions people experience in and around water: solitude, retrospection, fear, sadness, loss, hope, joy, etc. I think people experience their own unique emotions around water and art allows them to connect with water on a personal level.” Nicola Pratt, photographer
Aqua Circulus Sound Installation
The images below are from an interactive experience called Aqua Circulus by a group of artists called 1:1 Collaborative. Listeners are invited to engage with this audio representation of Toronto's hidden river systems through the states of Flow, Downpour and Stasis. They come from the Greater Toronto cityscape that is built on top of hidden rivers, historic shorelines, buried creeks and ravine systems that cut through the urban grid. Even Lake Ontario is predominantly hidden behind towering buildings and transportation infrastructure. Through the themes of Downpour, Flow and Stasis, Aqua Circulus creates an inventory of the sounds of water. Both familiar and unfamiliar from their context, the sounds invite the participants to reflect on the history, cycle and impact of the often invisible flows on our cityscape.
The artists in the 1:1 Collaborative include four landscape and urban designers: Astrid Greaves, Carla Lipkin, Lisa Gregory and Sarry Klein. The images are from an installation of the exhibit at Evergreen Brick Works, but we heard the same sounds at Water Docs!
Water Advisory! Textile Art Exhibit
The 2018 Water Docs Film Festival partnered with Wellington Water Watchers to bring their powerful Water Advisory! exhibit to patrons of our festival. Combining artistic practices with social activism, the artworks gain cultural significance and meaning to become more than aesthetic objects, but additionally objects of protest and awareness. The exhibition, while beautiful in nature, was equally a call to action for audiences to help support initiatives that protect local watersheds.
The exhibit was created by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists illustrating the current disconnection between society and water. It calls us with urgency to re-establish right relationship with water.
The Blue Marbles Project, from Blue Mind
The blue marbles project is a global, participatory art piece that is designed to inspire mindfulness in our relationship to water. A neuroscience-based initiative from marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, blue marbles are given to people around the world in celebration of our beautiful, fragile planet, carrying the simple and clear message that #WaterIsLife. Blue Mind has set out to pass a blue marble through every (yes, every) person's hands on earth, with a simple message of gratitude along with it.
At the Water Docs Film Festival, we place a bowl of blue marbles at the box office and patrons are encouraged throughout the festival to take a marble, to keep it with them as a reminder of the powerful encounters they have had with water and art at the festival, and then, when the right time and circumstance presents itself, to pass the blue marble on to someone else with the message of gratitude for all the waters on our very own Big Blue Marble called Earth.
Art, Performance & Film: The Peel Project
The documentary film The Peel Project had its Toronto premiere at the 2017 Water Docs Film Festival. During the premiere, the artists involved in the canoe journey down the Peel River Watershed in the Yukon, displayed some of their artwork that had been inspired by the process depicted in the film. Anthony Wallace and some local musicians performed original pieces of music for our audience that he had written while on this journey down the Peel River.
Water Docs 2017 opening night was thus an evening full of documentary film, original music, painting and sculpture!
Wild Water Residency - An Arts & Canoe Trek
Ten young artists will have the experience of a lifetime in Northern Ontario this August. Stay tuned and watch for what they create after their deep connection with Ontario’s land and waters… and in the meantime, consider applying or nominating a youth yourself or read more here.
2016 Performances and Exhibits
The Water Shed, an installation created by Montreal theatre group Porte Parole, offered people a surprise opportunity to engage with the miraculous and mysterious presence of Water, both around us and inside of us. From one participant:
The Pedal Project is an interactive, kinesthetic art installation that helps participants understand just how much energy it takes to pump a single glass of water into their homes.