Celebrating Canadian Documentary Films on National #CanFilmDay

The annual Water Docs Film Festival in Toronto has become a hub for Canadian documentary films and creative shorts about water issues. We provide a platform for those involved in the Canadian film industry, artists and academics to join us in conversation about the power of storytelling to communicate important issues affecting water and to provide audiences with important opportunities to take action for water. 

On National Canadian Film Day, we wish to highlight some of the fantastic Canadian films that just screened at the 7th annual Water Docs Film Festival last week (April 10 & 12-15) in Toronto. THANK YOU to all the filmmakers who joined us for panel discussions and Q&As to engage our audiences further after seeing your films. 

Some of these films will be available to screen in communities via our Water Docs Where-You-Live-Program. Feel free to get in touch with us about hosting a community screening and sign-up to our newsletter to be informed about upcoming screenings close to you!


Fix and Release (2017), award-winning film Water Docs 2017

Filmmaker: Scott Dobson

FIX AND RELEASE explores the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, a small turtle trauma centre in Peterborough Ontario Canada as it fights to even the odds for survival that freshwater turtles face in a modern world. Most turtle species in Canada are endangered due to loss of habitat and collisions with cars and boats. Dr. Sue Carstairs leads a team of dedicated staff and volunteers as they develop their own groundbreaking approach to reptile medicine. This visually beautiful film shows turtles in a way that few have seen before - highlighting their amazing ability to recover from catastrophic injury and hinting that these ancient creatures may be more complex than previously thought. Turtles are vital for healthy wetlands and every saved turtle makes a difference. As Dr. Carstairs says, “We are saving the world one turtle at a time”. 


Melting Stars (2017)

Filmmaker: Katie Green

MELTING STARS unravels the mystery behind one of the most catastrophic species die offs in recorded history. In 2013 scuba divers off the West coast of British Columbia discovered that the star fish were dying in the millions and suffering horrific deaths. They were disintegrating into goo on the ocean floor and the environmental balance of the marine ecosystem was being changed. Soon the immensity of this epidemic came to light and what researchers had dubbed the Sea Star Wasting Syndrome was now effecting several star fish species all along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to Mexico. The virus was also discovered in preserved museum samples from the 1940’s. So what has changed? MELTING STARS follows the clues on this marine mystery.


Ziyou (Freedom) (2017)

Filmmaker: Goh Iromoto

Emily Chan is an avid kayaker who has always lived life to the fullest, but when she faces the biggest challenge of her life, she must face this chapter as if it may be her last. In the end, by way of her inspirational journey, she shows us how one can live a life without regrets.


The Hundred-Year-Old Whale (2017)

Filmmaker: Mark Leiren-Young

On January 2, 2017 it was announced that "Granny" was missing and presumed dead. Born in an era when whales were on everyone's menu and her family members were being harpooned, then shot, then captured and put on display, "Granny" (J2) miraculously survived in the west coast waters for over a century as the world - and the world of whales - changed completely. We meet the world's oldest killer whale and explore her past and her family's future.


Invading Giants (2017)

Filmmakers: Kevin Fraser & Melani Wood

Every year residents of Newfoundland and Labrador look to the north with baited breath hoping the Atlantic Ocean will deliver to them a parade of ancient icebergs. Each one formed over 10,000 years ago and traveled thousands of kilometers before finally drifting into “Iceberg Alley” where they become accessible to a cast of characters whose livelihood depends on them.

Invading Giants Poster with WD laurels.jpg


Acqua Incognita: Made in China (2017)

Filmmaker: Nathalie Lasselin

In the countryside of southern China, a team of French cave divers are the first to explore and begin to map what could be the largest underground limestone karst system in the world. This discovery convinces the local government to develop diving tourism rather than industry. It's a tremendous gamble. But in China, everything is possible ... and that is what they want to prove. They dared explore beyond frontiers and could change the very way we look at the Earth.

AQUA INCOGNITA is a human adventure, a journey into the bowels of the Earth, to reach something undiscovered in ourselves and others.


The End Game (2017)

Filmmaker: Duane Sharman

Coral bleaching, driven by rising sea temperatures, has grown from isolated, regional events to become a global threat. If we are to have any hope of saving the world's coral reefs alive for future generations, a new strategy is needed. Increasing seawater temperatures have resulted in global coral bleaching events that threaten the world's coral reefs. THE END GAME follows the most recent wave of bleaching, and highlights the efforts of scientists to find a way to save the world's reefs before it is too late.


Feather from Fish Lake (2017)

Filmmaker: Jeremy Williams

Fish Lake is in the headwaters of the Chilcotin River watershed, a major tributary of the Fraser River. The lake is home to 85,000 rainbow trout, and provides clean water for drinking, irrigation, and millions of salmon, which support a thriving ecosystem and economy.

Despite the objections of the Tsilhqot’in Nation and two federal rejections, Taseko Mines Ltd. continues to try and advance its “New” Prosperity Mine proposal. The company is now proposing to begin extensive road building, drilling, test pits, and seismic line testing, and build a 50-man camp, to advance and prepare for the construction of the rejected mine. In response to the proposed disturbance, Tsilhqot’in leaders held a water ceremony at Teztan Biny, where an eagle feather was blessed before travelling downstream with water gathered from the lake. The feather and water were sent from Teztan Biny, down the Fraser River to Christy Clark in Victoria. The mine has been rejected twice over its negative impacts to Tsilhqot’in culture and risks to this headwater ecosystem. The integrity of Canada’s environmental assessment process is at stake.


Kwadacha By the River (2017)

Filmmakers: Dave Shortt, Jessica Hallenbeck, Mitchell McCook

In the late 1960s, the Kwadacha First Nation were flooded out of their Northern BC territory by the W.A.C. Bennett Dam - one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world. Without warning, hundreds of cemeteries and village sites were destroyed. Thousands of animals drowned, causing near-starvation in the community. Many people too have drowned; in waters rendered dangerous and unnavigable. Ironically, Kwadacha does not benefit from the dam -- relying instead on a diesel generator so costly, that many cannot afford electricity. With neighbouring communities at risk from the construction of a new dam, it’s time for Kwadacha to tell their story.


Like a River Flows (2017)

Filmmaker: Elizabeth Zetlin

LIKE A RIVER FLOWS is a lyrical meditation on the wonder of water and how that might apply to taking care of our rivers and our own lives. This docu-poem, filmed, written and narrated by Liz Zetlin, is based on four lines from Irish poet John O’Donohue’s poem “Fluent”: I would love to live Like a river flows Carried by the surprise Of its own unfolding. Over a period of one year, Zetlin observed water as it appeared in her life. Living along the Sydenham River in Owen Sound, Ontario at the base of Georgian Bay, part of the Great Lakes watershed, she shot thousands of photographs, which she curated, according to seasons, and put into the IMac's origami screen saver, which selects images at random, folding and repeating them, like our minds recall memories. Laced together with video, music and poetry, each moment becomes new again, as it's juxtaposed to others.


For Our Peat's Sake (2017)

Filmmaker: Thayer MacInnis

FOR OUR PEAT'S SAKE is an examination of the economic benefits and ecological impacts that are incurred through the production and use of ancient reserves of peat mosses. The 35 minute documentary film focuses on the Lake Winnipeg watershed region, where desperate Canadians and First Nations peoples are fighting for the protection of water, as nutrient runoff, flooding, and extreme weather has resulted in suffocating lakes and toxically undermined water sources.