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Documenting the Art of Exploration IX

March 24 and 25, 2017

This festival is a unique partnership between The Arts & Letters Club of Toronto and The Explorers Club.

Friday, March 24, starting at 7:00 p.m.

7:00 pm: Reception. Join Canadian filmmakers Les Stroud and Patricia Sims in a tribute to shark advocate Rob Stewart and the filmmakers that he has inspired. They will share stories of their friendship and professional exchanges with this late filmmaker. We have two films tonight – Rob’s Sharkwater and Patricia’s When Elephants Were Young.

7:15 When Elephants Were Young

In When Elephants Were Young filmmaker Patricia Sims tells the story of a young man and his elephant who live and street-beg in Bangkok. It portrays the conservation issues that threaten the elephant’s survival, until the opportunity comes to release the elephant to the wild. The elephant successfully rehabilitates to the wild, joining a family of wild elephants. The story demonstrates a positive conservation model for the future survival of endangered Asian elephants.

9:00 Sharkwater

Filmed in visually stunning, high definition video, Sharkwater takes you into the most shark rich waters of the world, exposing the exploitation and corruption surrounding the world’s shark populations in the marine reserves of Cocos Island, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. In an effort to protect sharks, Stewart teams up with renegade conservationist Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Their unbelievable adventure together starts with a battle between the Sea Shepherd and shark poachers in Guatemala, resulting in pirate boat rammings, gunboat chases, mafia espionage, corrupt court systems and attempted murder charges, forcing them to flee for their lives.


Saturday, March 25, starting at 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. An abundance of films

There will be 10 documentaries during the day with the art and exploration films running concurrently. Coffee and muffins will be waiting for you in the morning when you arrive and available throughout the day. Lunch will be a buffet in the lounge around noon. Cookies and strawberries will be served mid afternoon. 

Note: Film schedule could change. If the sequence of films is important to you, please check back a few days before the film festival.

9:00     Revolution (90 minutes)

In this highly anticipated follow up to his hit Sharkwater, filmmaker Rob Stewart brings us on an adventure 3.5 billion years in the making – from the evolution of life to the revolution underway to save us. Filmed over four years in 15 countries, Revolution captures some of the most remarkable wildlife spectacles ever recorded, and gives audiences a firsthand look into the biggest battle ever fought. Discovering that it’s not just sharks that are in jeopardy – but us – Stewart looks to the evolution of life and past revolutions in order to uncover the secrets necessary to save our world. Joining the activists and youth fighting to save their future, Stewart’s journey is startling, beautiful and provocative, revealing crisis as an opportunity for everyone to become a hero.

10:30   Bluefin (53 minutes)

Director John Hopkins makes Bluefin is a tale of epic stakes set in North Lake, PEI -- “the tuna capital of the world”. The film explores the baffling mystery of why the normally wary bluefin tuna no longer fear humans. Local fishermen swear tuna are so starving and abundant that they will eat out of people’s hands like pets. But something is not right. One thing is certain: this sudden and incredible abundance of tuna off the PEI contradicts scientific assessments claiming endangered stocks are down by 90 percent.

11:30   Lunatic (45 minutes)

This film is the story of Ian Evans, who had his first adventure by scaling the shed roof at age 3. He has subsequently climbed five of the seven summits, cycled 5,000 km solo across Australia and almost died from a fall on the successful expedition to summit Mount Elbrus in Russia. Despite his many accomplishments Ian's desire for adventure still was not satisfied. He was haunted by a nagging question, “Could he follow in the footsteps of his childhood heroes Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen and reach the South Pole, despite being over the hill?”

12:15   LUNCH

12:45   The Perfect State (22 minutes)

The Perfect State speaks to a desire for a new relationship with nature told against the alluring backdrop of nature in the Salish Sea. It began as a sailing journey where we searched for people whose lives and livelihoods were connected to the natural world of the Salish Sea. We insisted that all the imagery be shown in a new way. Back in the editing room we discovered a treasure of footage and began the ruthless task of editing. To our delight, the vivid images told a compelling story. Over two years in the making, The Perfect State will whet the appetite of viewers who savour a new pact with nature and those who have fallen for the siren call of the Salish Sea.

1:00     40 Winters 11 minutes)

Follow adventurer Simon Donato, professional obstacle course racer Ryan Atkins and ultra-runner Adam Campbell as they attempt to traverse the 11 peaks of the iconic Mt. Rundle ridge in a single day. Facing snow, ice, and quickly changing early spring conditions, the trio set out along the iconic Rundle ridge between Canmore and Banff to try and post a fastest known time for the traverse in winter conditions. With interviews from mountain legends such as Chic Scott, Charlie Locke, Will Gadd and Jack Firth, 40 Winters examines what it means to live and play in the mountains, have adventures, and most importantly come home safely.

1:15     Eyes of Society (11 minutes)

Eyes of Society is a short film documenting a group of artists from across Canada as they embark on a 14 day kayak journey to the UNESCO Site and ancient Haida village of SGang Gwaay. It reflects on the important role of an artist in society and how that differs across cultures and time. Filmmakers Allison Smith and Joseph Crawford of Braid Films capture Gwaii Haanas through the eyes of an artist, highlighting the imagery, emotion and artistic influence of natural spaces. This trip brings together artists W. David Ward, Andrew Sookrah, Anja Karisik, Gary Landon, Sophie Lavoie and April White.

1:30     The Art of Wild (16 minutes)

The Art of Wild reconnects us to the earth through the lens of five experiential artists from across British Columbia, Canada. Looking intimately at lifestyle commitment and the world we live in, the artists climb routes on the southern end of Vancouver Island, dive into the north Pacific Ocean waves of Tofino, ride the Kooetnay Rockies of Revelstoke and bike the lost landscapes of Atlin from a tiny off-grid cabin tucked away in the most northern corner of the province. This short documentary film reminds us of our humble place in this vast universe, allowing us to simply enjoy

1:45     Freightened; The Real Price of Shipping  (45 minutes)

Freightened reveals in an audacious investigation the mechanics and perils of cargo shipping; an all-but-visible industry that relentlessly supplies 7 billion humans and holds the key to our economy, our environment and the very model of our civilization.

2:30     The Great Human Odyssey (45 minutes)

Why are we the last of our kind? Anthropologist Niobe Thompson takes a journey of discovery in the footsteps of our human ancestors, and unlocks the mystery of our unlikely survival and miraculous emergence as the world’s only global species. Filmed over 18 months across 5 continents in 4K resolution, featuring drone and helicopter-mounted RED aerials, extensive underwater and Phantom slow-motion footage, and a live-recorded symphonic score. A true cinematic odyssey described by Canada’s press as “spectacular”, “stunning”, “dazzling”, “gorgeous” and a “fascinating and engagingly accessible exploration of human evolution.”

3:30     RiverBlue (95 minutes)

Following international river conservationist, Mark Angelo, Riverblue spans the globe to infiltrate one of the world’s most pollutive industries - fashion. Narrated by clean water supporter Jason Priestley, this groundbreaking documentary examines the destruction of our rivers, its effect on humanity, and the solutions that inspire hope for a sustainable future.


Saturday evening 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm: Road Stories

Filmmakers will share their Road Stories in an interactive discussion with the audience starting at 5:30 pm in the 3rd floor studio.

7:00 pm: Gala Dinner

8:00 pm: Keynote speaker: Mark Angelo

River conservationist and writer, Mark Angelo is the founder and chair of BC River Day and World Rivers Day, and inaugural chair, now Chair Emeritus of the Rivers Institute at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and was installed in the Fraser River Hall of Fame in 2014. He is widely know for his lifelong efforts to protect waterways through river conservation and restoration initiatives and IS the recipient of many BC awards. Mark is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. In Riverblue he paddles rivers round the globe and encounters the dark side of one of the world’s most pollutive industries – fashion. Riverblue premiered at the 2016 Vancouver Film Festival to sold out shows and was nominated for the VIFF Impact Award and in 2017 won the Award of Recognition for Feature Documentary at the Hollywood International Documentary awards.



Please book for Saturday sessions through the Arts & Letters Club

Friday night: Free

Saturday films + lunch + snacks + Road Stories: $60

Saturday gala dinner and keynote speaker: $35

Admission to the festival is restricted to members of the Arts & Letters Club and The Explorers Club and their friends and family.


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