VIFF docs tackle global subjects

At the Vancouver International Film Festival opening party at the Vancouver aquarium on September 25, the Straight asked Blue Gold: World Water Wars executive producer Mark Achbar (The Corporation ) if there was a good chance that the United States would invade Canada within the next 20 years to obtain control of our lakes and rivers. The filmmaker wryly responded, “Do you really think they’ll have to?”

While Blue Gold focuses exclusively on the international assault on the world’s water, other films deal with the problem more obliquely. Perhaps the most chilling aspect of Ian Connacher’s Addicted to Plastic!, for example, is the amount of plastic fatally ingested by fish and other aquatic animals.

One saltwater mammal that has pretty much disappeared from the planet is the Mediterranean monk seal. Finding even one member of this once-ubiquitous species is the impetus behind Miloslav Novák’s quirky Peace With Seals.

Meanwhile, The Dancing Forest shows how one village in the impoverished country of Togo has tried to make the most of its limited natural resources.

The fact that the loss of so much global wealth, health, and sovereignty isn’t the result of local irresponsibility is made abundantly clear in Stelios Koiloglou’s Apology of an Economic Hitman, which is the on-screen confession of John Perkins, a former cloak-and-dagger flack for U.S. corporate interests.

Peter Galison and Robb Moss’s Secrecy demonstrates how severely the cornerstones of democratic life—privacy and freedom—have been eroded by governments overplaying the fear-of-terrorism card.

Social uniqueness and geographic isolation are also under threat, documented by Gideon Koppel’s Sleep Furiously, about the last days of a Welsh village, and Anne Aghion’s Ice People, about the search for prehistoric fossils in Antarctica.

While Dick Cheney might not think so, social dissent can be seen as a boon, as in Daniel Mermet and Olivier Azam’s Chomsky and Co. The same can be said for human kindness, something the scalpel-wielding hero of The English Surgeon possesses in spades. (Henry Marsh “cuts” for free in the desperately poor post-Communist Ukraine.)