The inspiring Return To Nepal receives its world premiere at Planet In Focus.
PLANET IN FOCUS INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL to October 26. For times and venues, see listings, this page. planetinfocus.org.
The Planet In Focus Film Festival centres on the health and social well-being of our planet. This year the spotlight is on food, but there are lots of non-gastronomic flicks, too, like Canadian entries Addicted To Plastic and Return To Nepal.
Addicted To Plastic (October 24, Rating: NNNN), directed and narrated by Ian Connacher, is the record of a two-year odyssey to discover where plastic comes from and what happens when we're done with it.
The film spends too much time on inconsequential scenes (Legoland in Denmark, California beaches) and could go farther into Canadian solutions. Only government regulation and investment in R&D will break our over-dependence on the stuff. The Danes force Coca-Cola to reuse its plastic bottles. Why can't we?
But give the film full marks for profiling the ingenuity of those who won't wait for the law to catch up. Shooting on video with heavy use of a fish-eye lens, Connacher interviews people the world over who reuse, recycle or reformat this indestructible and essential material.
While Connacher circled the globe, musician Bruce Cockburn focuses on one wee country in Return To Nepal (October 25, Rating: NNN). Twenty years ago he visited the tiny nation lodged between China and India; now he returns to see what's changed.
Also shot on video, it's full of gorgeous shots of the Himalayas and, of course, Cockburn's music on the soundtrack. Although the singer's known as much for his interest in social causes as for his art, he always comes off as reserved and seems an odd choice to anchor a film about cultural outreach.
The film, directed by Robert Lang, ends with a surprising notion. Modernity is encroaching on this rural society, and the conventional assumption is that its culture will be swallowed in that process. But Cockburn suggests that Hindu- and Buddhist-based Nepalese values might instead change the societies that encounter them for the better. This thought provides an uplifting finish for the musician's literally breathtaking journey.