Directed by: Jennifer Baichwal
Countries & Regions: Canada
Studio: British Film Institute
Length: 83 mins
Released: 22 September 2008
Cat No: BFIVD782
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Award-winning Canadian documentary focusing on the work of renowned artist Edward Burtynsky. Jennifer Baichwal’s film centres on... Read More
This is a documentary with dual subjects. Nominally a portrait of the Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky (and sharing its title with his book of the same name), Baichwal’s film is also about the subjects of his large-scale photographs – “the new landscapes of our time”; places where industrial activities scar and poison the earth, where raw materials from these sites are assembled into consumer goods of every description, and the places where the concomitant human detritus of every description is dumped and sometimes sorted for re-use. The photographs he produces – landscapes turned surreal through mining residues, ships being broken in Bangladesh, computer waste that resembles autumn leaves – reveal the paucity of our language for describing such troubling beauty.
The film doesn’t preach. Instead, it shows the world, says “this is how it is”, and leaves us to think – hard – about the networks and goods that allow us to be who we are.