Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Green Chain "Heralded" for Earth Day

You know Earth Day has gone mainstream when The Calgary Herald is covering it. Yes, that would the same Calgary where they keep all the oil money...

Sure, the headline is about "cashing in" on the environmental movement but still... The story's on the cover of today's entertainment section, complete with a photo of Alberta's own Tricia Helfer. Calgary Herald writer (and author of The White Guy) Stephen Hunt wrote an extensive Earth Day feature for today's paper that covers everything from a green-washing James Bond villain to, the Environmental Media Association and... The Green Chain.

Here's Hunt's take on The Green Chain and Local Anxiety...

For Vancouver-based writer and director and longtime environmentalist Mark Leiren-Young, whose film The Green Chain explores the issue of logging in B.C., the shift in the overall public attitude towards the environment has been pleasantly surprising: touring with his comedy group Local Anxiety across Canada in the early 1990s with a show that included political satire and environmentally-themed sketches, Leiren-Young discovered the rest of the country didn't share Local Anxiety's interest in the environment.

"As soon as we went out of Vancouver, we pretty much had to lose the environmental stuff," Leiren-Young says. "When we played Toronto, I remember our producer saying, 'Lose the stuff about the dolphins and the whales.' So we'd lose all the stuff about dolphins, whales and trees. It just didn't play there."

Leiren-Young and the rest of Local Anxiety taped a television special featuring their political satire in Toronto. Then they went back to B.C. and taped a TV special featuring their environmental material that they were (politely) asked not to perform in Toronto. The result was Greenpieces: An Eco-Comedy, which was broadcast on TV in parts of in Canada and a PBS station in San Diego, where it won an EarthVision award for excellence in environmental filmmaking.

Cut to 15 years later, and the stuff Leiren-Young and his merry band of B.C. satirists couldn't perform elsewhere has become part of the everyday lexicon of the nation.

"Literally, all the stuff we were doing in 1993 in Vancouver is suddenly relevant in 2008 in the rest of Canada," Leiren-Young says.

The greening of pop culture resulted in The Green Chain, (which features, among other's, Alberta's Tricia Helfer), receiving development funding from Telefilm. According to Telefilm's John Dippong, a film such as The Green Chain, which deals with logging by showing both sides of the debate in fictionalized monologues, demonstrates the sort of maturation in the approach filmmakers have made in films discussing environmental themes.

"It basically looks at the whole issue of logging from all sorts of different perspectives," says Dippong of the film, which reaped a best canadian screenwriting nomination from the Writers Guild of Canada for Leiren-Young. "It's really nicely done, because there's no obvious right, wrong or single point of view, which of course is the whole deal with environmental films: it's complicated. Which is interesting."

Dippong sees the increased interest in environmental themes as a logical extension of western Canadian-based filmmakers' sense of place.

"It's kind of dangerous to generalize, but I think western Canadian filmmakers have a pretty distinctive sense of place and environment," Dippong says. "Whether it's the vast open prairies, the mountains, (or) the West Coast here, I think we're starting to see that the environment we live in is starting to influence the stories we tell."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mr. Leiren-Young Goes to Ottawa

My Joust with Senators over Free Speech in Film
Leiren-Young: Message delivered.

Jitters, the F word, and what I told the Bill C-10 hearings.

By Mark Leiren-Young
Published: April 14, 2008

[Editor's note: To read the full transcript of the Senate panel discussion during the session Mark Leiren-Young spoke in, click here. His comments begin about half way down.]

The nice people at the Book and Periodical Council wanted me to be as well behaved as possible. The nice woman from the CBC really wanted me to say "fuck" on TV. And what the f*** were the senators going to say?

For the rest of the story... visit The Tyee...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Green Chain Filmmaker to Talk Censorship With The Senate

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Mark Leiren-Young is "briefing" the Senate today (Wednesday, April 9 at 5 pm Eastern Time) on a provision in Bill C-10 that could lead to the censorship of Canadian film and television.
Mark's speaking to the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce on behalf of the Freedom of Expression Committee of the Book and Periodical Council of Canada.
This controversial clause in Bill C-10 won't affect The Green Chain, but it could affect the next movie or TV show that you try to make, so if you'd like to know what it's all about, here's the Facebook site Keep your censoring hands off of Canadian film and TV! No to Bill C-10! -- which now has over 38,000 members.
And if you're concerned about free speech in Canada, please join the Facebook group, send a letter to the Senate or call, write or email your MP.
Mark is presenting his brief between 5 and 6 pm (Eastern Time) and the Senate hearings are being streamed live on-line, so you can click here to watch. Other groups speaking today include REAL Women of Canada and Canadians Concerned about Violence in Entertainment (from 4-5 pm). The Canadian Conference of the Arts and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association will be speaking during the same session as the BPC, from 5-6.
Thursday's speakers include Sarah Polley and Wendy Crewson, who are speaking on behalf of ACTRA, and Rebecca Schechter and Maureen Parker from the Writer's Guild of Canada.
The Book and Periodical Council is the umbrella organization for Canadian associations involved in the writing, editing, publishing, manufacturing, distribution, selling and lending of books and periodicals in Canada. The members represent approximately 6,000 individuals and 5,500 firms and institutions. Associate members represent an additional several thousand individuals, firms and institutions.
The Freedom of Expression Committee monitors censorship issues in Canada, organizes Freedom to Read Week and produces an information kit each year on issues of intellectual freedom.
Mark first got involved with the FOE committee in 1992 when his comedy troupe, Local Anxiety, wrote the anthem for Freedom to Read Week, "Dirty Books."
He has represented the Playwrights Guild of Canada on FOE (and been part of their "issues" subcommittee) for so long that no one's quite sure when he officially joined.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Link to The Babz Chula Lifeline

Babz Chula is a national treasure and right now she needs your help -- so please share this post (or at least these links) with everyone you know.
Babz is currently fighting two different types of cancer and she’s using alternative therapies that aren’t covered by the Canadian Health Care system. So the Babz Chula Lifeline for Artists Society is raising money to help cover her treatments.
The Green Chain was Babz’ first gig after recovering from her last bout with cancer and I know everyone on the movie was honoured that she was willing to play with us.
So now I’m going to drop the names of some of the stars who are donating their time and/or memorabilia to the cause because I want everyone to visit eBay to bid early, often and extravagantly... David Duchovny (The X-Files), Nick Lea (Men in Trees), Chris Carter (Harsh Realm – okay, The X-Files too, but Harsh Realm was amazing and you should check it out on DVD), Gabrielle Miller (Corner Gas), Callum Keith Rennie (almost every cool Canadian movie you've ever seen), Jewel Staite (Firefly & Stargate Atlantis), Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica) and The Green Chain’s Tahmoh Penikett.
Babz is a joy to work with and to be with and I know she’s got hundreds of great roles left to play – both on and off stage.
So bid early, bid often and if you can’t find anything to buy, and even if you can, make a donation anyway for all the times you’ve seen her on stage or screen -- or off stage and screen -- and she’s made you laugh or cry or feel happy to be alive.