Friday, August 31, 2007

Our first review... from the Montreal World Film Festival

indyish logo

Finally, an enviro-film premiere I could attend!

by Lise Treutler

The Montreal World Film Festival sees many a film, but this year’s edition was, for me, all about The Green Chain — a new mockumentary making its world premiere here in my fair city. While I would surely have gone to see the film regardless, a few factors made the screening all the more exciting and important for me:

The Green Chain poster

  • despite convincing arguments that it could technically be considered a business trip, my boss wouldn’t give me the money to attend the private advance screening of The 11th Hour in Vancouver;
  • The Green Chain is entirely Canadian and takes place in an unnamed British Columbia town (and I am perpetually in a love affair with the province); and
  • my boss and I were invited to the third of three screenings by the filmmaker himself, Mark Leiren-Young.

Leiren-Young is certainly a busy guy, having written in just about every genre one can… journalism, blogs, screenwriting, stage plays, etc. The Green Chain, however, marks his feature film début. Like its creator, the film is a genre-bending journey that can in all truth fit into any of the following categories: character piece, documentary, dramedy, dark comedy, indie, artsy… Oh, forget it! The list is too long! Let me just state for the record that this film is one worth seeing, unless you don’t like examining your own thoughts or being compelled to recognize your personal (inherited?) bias.

The film takes you deep into the longstanding (so much that it’s almost stereotypical) conflict between loggers and environmentalists and sits you face-to-face with opinions from connected individuals you might not have even thought of. The cast includes some of Canada’s most talented actors, most notably August Schellenberg and “Queen of the Indies” Babz Chula (okay, so she was born in New York).

By now you’re probably wondering where my proclamation of “this film will convert you to environmentalism” is, because that’s what we’ve come to expect from similar films. We expect films with an agenda. We rent Michael Moore documentaries not for anticipated surprises on film, but because we want to learn more about his take on, say, health care or gun control in the States, and we know — unless we’re been living under rocks since the mid-’90s — that the films aim to debunk government statements, greenwashing, or (if we’re particularly angry sorts) the right-wing agenda. I fell for such expectations myself before seeing The Green Chain, sat down for a pro-activist film, and left the theatre after the credits surprised and duly impressed!

Mark Leiren-Young

The Green Chain is not pro-environmentalist, nor is it pro-industry. It wasn’t until Leiren-Young asked me point-blank after the screening which side I thought the film rooted for that I fully realized what, and how much, I took away. As I described how the film’s narrative put me face-to-face (and even behind the eyes) of all sides of the battle, I realized how just how valuable this is. Yes, the film is about the forests, and like the Lorax, it speaks for the trees. But it speaks through seven distinct voices, some of which I’d been unaware of!

As an ardent environmentalist, I clearly see through a certain pair of eyes more often than not. But I’ve always tried to see everyone in the forest sector, for example, as individual human beings, and look for their needs and motives from that point of view… but a distinct lack of logger friends does make this difficult! Leiren-Young has created seven characters so firmly rooted in their beliefs and so willing to fight for what they hold to be truth that one can’t help but really feel for each one and empathize with their situation. When the credits roll, it’s not a question of who’s right — they all are for their different situations.

When The Green Chain becomes available to you, what will you sit down expecting? Do you recognize your bias now, or are you unsure? If you feel you don’t know enough about the forest industry or the environmentalist/logger battle, where do you think you stand?

If you were lucky enough to attend one of the three screenings at the festival, what did you leave the theatre thinking about?

Technorati Profile

Monday, August 27, 2007

Le Premiere

And the theme of the day from The Green Chain's World Premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival (Festival des Filmes du Monde)... technical difficulties!

Okay... so the Metro line to our location isn't working... the internet at our hotel wasn't working (which is why this is so late)... my beautiful new cell phone wasn't working... our projector at the theatre wasn't working, but the movie...

Worked beautifully... soon as the projector came to life!

The audience response was wonderful. People were silent where I hoped they'd be quiet, they laughed where I hoped they'd chuckle and, best of all, everyone wanted to talk when the movie was over.

The audience included our producer team... Tony Wosk (producer), James DesRoches (co-producer) and Donna Wong-Juliani (executive producer)... Darron Leiren-Young (production coordinator and so much more) got to take time off from her gig at J-Pod to make the trip to Quebec.

And a few of our family members flew out, including seven year-old Emma Jordan Leiren Young (Darron's and my niece) -- who has a special cameo appearance. I was so impressed that Emma didn't scream when she saw herself on-screen, but she couldn't resist saying, "that's me!" when she saw her name in the credits! I felt like cheering when I finally saw the credits too...

John Wiggers (who inspired August Schellenberg's character, The Executive) was there and was delighted by the movie, as was Donna Bisschop, the artist who created the haunting painting in that sequence -- and who told us she hadn't been to a movie theatre in about 15 years!

I got the chance to thank everyone in front of the opening night crowd, but thanks again to everyone who made this happen. Un grand merci beaucoup!


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Green Chain Podcast: Severn Cullis-Suzuki

Believe it or not... more big Green news. It's the official launch of The Green Chain podcast hosted by The Tyee.

This isn't traditional hype, this is what our movie's all about -- getting people to talk, think and feel something about the issues facing the forests... Yep, I'm interviewing all sorts of people about trees.

First off I talk with Severn Cullis-Suzuki (editor of Notes From Canada's Young Activists: A Generation Stands Up for Change). This is my first time on the other side of a mic for an audio interview in years, my first time trying out my new podcasting gear, and figuring out how to edit in GarageBand was an adventure -- but Severn was an amazing and inspiring interview.

The plan is to post a new podcast every two weeks and I've got some incredible guests lined up to talk trees. Coming up... John Vaillant, author of The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed.

This should be on iTunes soon -- and hopefully other places too -- but home base is The Tyee. The Tyee was the launching pad for the "Hundred Mile Diet," so it has global reach and the chance to make our movie part of a global dialogue on environmental issues. And how cool is that?

The Tyee took a real leap of faith in hosting our podcast -- it's their first ever podcast series -- and it'll definitely make them happy if it gets downloaded, linked to, blogged about, commented on, tagged, digged etc. Subscribing to The Tyee's email headlines or rss feed would also make em happy and it'll be a treat for your inbox. The Tyee features a terrific mix of stories -- one of which was just picked up by my heroes at The Colbert Report.

And for me... Any and all words of wisdom about future podcasts would be most appreciated. Any people you'd love me to talk to? Questions you'd like me to ask? Thoughts on how & where to share the podcast?

Oh, the recording of The Green Chain Song that kicks this off is a new one. It's the first song recorded by Local Anxiety in, um, a very very very long time. And yeah, I'm half of Local Anxiety, so that's me singing the harmony line...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Link to The Green Chain in Montreal

A quick but important post -- here's the official program listing for The Green Chain for The Montreal World Film Festival. I think these are the official links for buying tickets...
Sunday, August 26, 2007 • 7:30 pm (L10.26.6)
Monday, August 27, 2007 • 12:00 pm (L10.27.2)
Tuesday, August 28, 2007 • 5:30 pm (L10.28.5)

See you in Montreal!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Green Chain's going to Montreal!

The Green Chain's World Premiere is set for Aug. 26th (aka 26 août) at 7:30 pm as part of the Montreal World Film Festival's Focus On World Cinema program, so I guess that means we're officially taking on the world. We're also playing the 27th and 28th. If you can be there, please be there! If you have friends in Quebec, please send them. If you don't have friends in Quebec -- please make friends in Quebec!

The last time our executive producer, Donna Wong-Juliani, and I were in Montreal was October, 27, 1995 and we were waving Canadian flags.
Now it's time to wave The Green Chain flag.
John Wiggers -- billed as our "tree guru" in the movie -- is planning to make the trek from Ontario, which is a big thrill for me because John was the inspiration (on so many levels) for the character of John Clements (The Executive) played by August Schellenberg. That character would not exist if not for John.
This is a big year for the Montreal World Film Festival -- and it's a thrill -- je suis ravi -- to be part of it.
Stay tuned. More info as it happens!
And more is happening very soon...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Mark Leiren-Young on Sci-Fi Talk

This interview with Mark was just posted on Sci-fi Talk It's also available on iTunes.

Last week they had to settle for Johnny Depp... The week before they were stuck with Guillermo Del Toro... Before that it was the cast of some little movie about a boy wizard...