Friday, 12 October 2012

Cotton, Flying Men and Narwhal Meat: Friday at Planet in Focus Film Festival

$5 Screening!!!*
Bitter Seeds
Friday, Oct. 12 - 5:00 pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox
Run Time: 88 minutes

According to this revealing documentary, "every 30 minutes, a farmer in India kills himself". What is behind this epidemic of suicides in the largest farmer community in the world? Director, Micha X. Peled investigates this growing crisis by taking us into the world of cotton farmer Ram Krishna Kopulwar, forced into debt buy purchasing genetically modified seeds, and Manjusha Ambarwar, an eighteen year-old budding journalist who has taken the initiative in investigating why farmers in her village continue to kill themselves. Monsanto, the name behind the Bt cotton now growing in many Indian villages, has their point view represented in the film, but as scientist Dr. Vandana Shiva points out, Monsanto has a gridlock on cotton in India: they have to wealth to advertise the seeds to illiterate farmers, they control the distribution of the seeds in the stores, and they control the foreign trade with countries like China. It's almost impossible for farmers to find conventional seeds, and its even harder for them to get loans for the seeds, leaving many to go to moneylenders as they risk their farms to buy seeds and pray that their crop will be successful in withstanding the mealy bug that has destroyed so much of the Bt cotton plants. By focusing on how this epidemic is affecting one village, Micha X. Peled successfully paints a picture of what is happening across India, and how the seeds impact the social and traditional dynamics of the Indian family, from economic survival and pride to dowries.

Friday, Oct. 12 - 7:30 pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox
Run Time: 65 minutes

Director, Jose Alvarez and his crew capture the rituals that are being preserved by the Totanic community in Mexico. With minimal dialogue and music we watch as ancient cultural traditions are practiced and passed on to younger generations. The camera patiently captures the rhythm of the festive canicula season, walking with the farmers through their fields, focusing on the patterns of dance steps, and showing the connection of the people to the land through the crafting of clay works that replicate the artists' environment with beautifully made pottery. The Voladores, flying men, or rather boys in this case, and their free fall act was a breathtaking feat that I had never seen before, and which defies description in its simplicity and danger.

Vanishing Point (Katinngat)
Friday, Oct. 12 -  9:15 pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox
Run Time: 82 minutes

Have you ever wanted to travel to new lands? Have you ever wanted to meet new people? Then enter the world of Polar Eskimo, Navarana K'avigak as she introduces us to her part of the world in Greenland and then travels to see her Canadian Arctic cousins in Baffin Island. A descendant of the shaman Qitdlarssuag, who made the trek from Canada to Greenland, Navarana might very well be stepping into the footsteps of her ancestor as she travels between the two points. I found it fascinating to see through Navarana's eyes and words the contrasting ways in which each northern community is adapting to climate and cultural changes. The photography is gorgeous, with the blues of the sky and the water, and the white of the snow and the clouds forming a natural backdrop for the living things that inhabit the harsh but beautiful areas. After watching this film by Stephen A. Smith and Julia Szucs, I have a craving for mattak, narwhal meat, fresh from the sea.

Regular Screenings: $12
Student/Senior (with ID): $10
Closing Night Gala (includes film and party): $22
Packages also available. Check website/call for details
416-599-TIFF 98433

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