Yukon Film Society scores again, with a special double bill at the Yukon Arts Centre this coming Monday, November 1.
Featured will be two of the newest films from Canadian pop-culture icon Ron Mann. As if that weren’t enough, the Toronto director himself will be in town with his films.
Fresh from its showing at the Vancouver International Film Festival, In the Wake of the Flood chronicles Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s recent 100-day tour promoting last year’s bestselling novel Year Of The Flood.
Her novel is an exploration of an all-too-possible near future, where a band of devoted ecologists who call themselves God’s Gardeners are all that stand between a worldwide pandemic and biological catastrophe brought on by mankind’s technological folly.
Atwood visited 30 cities in six countries, including Germany, Holland, Britain, the US and Canada.
In keeping with the ecological theme of her work, she travelled with the deliberate intent of using as much low-pollution transportation as possible, going by train and bus to her destinations.
In each city, she enlisted the aid of local conservation groups to replay scenes from the book, as well as community choirs to sing the environment-themed hymns of God’s Gardeners.
Mann documented the resulting theatrical presentations, along with interview sequences with the 70-year-old author.
Atwood came by her environmentalist credentials early in life. Accompanying her entomologist father on research trips for half the year in the woods of northern Ontario until the age of 11, she became an enthusiastic birdwatcher.
Revenue raised from showings of In the Wake of the Flood will go toward BirdLife International, a global partnership striving to preserve birds and their habitat, and to Nature Canada, a wildlife conservation network.
A scene in Mann’s film shows Atwood and her partner, Graeme Gibson, walking through the Hall of Birds in London’s Natural History Museum.
“You see such sadness in their faces,” says the director, “especially when you consider that museums might be the only places in the future where we’ll be able to experience nature.”
In the Wake of the Flood opened at the Toronto International Film Festival on October 13, followed by a keynote opening showing at Toronto’s Planet in Focus festival.
Know Your Mushrooms, the second Mann film on the bill, is an impish and informative natural history of all things mycological.
It’s never boring as it proceeds to open our own doors of perception about the lowly mushroom.
Combining animation, pop quizzes and archival footage, Mann takes us exploring from the rain forests of Bolivia to the Alaskan wilderness, always entertaining as well as educating.
Much of the film takes place at the annual Telluride Mushroom Festival in Colorado.
Here, mushroom enthusiasts and connoisseurs gather for mushroom identification workshops, cooking lessons and forays into the world of the mushroom’s more hallucinogenic aspects.
We learn that shiitake mushrooms have proven effective in combatting a host of illnesses from high blood pressure to cancer.
We learn that oyster mushrooms can be employed as an agent to clean up coastal oil spills, leaving no trace of toxins in either the water or the plentiful edible fungus that grows out of the spill.
We also learn that no fewer than 485 species of mushrooms are traded for medicinal and health purposes, that mushrooms may have played a prominent part in mankind’s evolution from hunter-gatherer to agriculturalist, and that there may have been an extraterrestrial aspect to the mushroom’s origins on Earth.
It’s a fascinating, funny and informative romp through a subject that few of us have given much thought, and it makes for one great documentary.
In the Wake of the Flood plays at 7:00 pm at the Yukon Arts Centre, followed by Know Your Mushrooms and a question and answer session with the director. Tickets are $15, or $13 for Yukon Film Society members.
Mann will also conduct a documentary workshop in Whitehorse and attend a screening of the films in Dawson City. For details, contact the Yukon Film Society at 393-3456.