Anthropocene: The Human Epoch

Loading the player ...

Canada | 2018 | 87 minutes | Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky

The filmmakers of Manufactured Landscapes (SIFF 2006) construct a beautiful and timely meditation on humanity's massive, destructive reengineering of the planet and the ways in which we've permanently altered its climate. Narrated by Oscar®-winner Alicia Vikander.

"Both shocking and beautiful, the film impresses itself on the viewer with the awesome scale of the imagery-and with the urgency behind it."—The Globe and Mail

In Immermath, Germany, the world's biggest excavator lumbers through a massive open-pit mine, its behemoth bucket-wheel rhythmically plowing into soft earth for a sight alternately awe-inspiring and haunting. Seemingly more like a small city on tracks, the giant has systematically destroyed a series of small towns in the name of some form of necessary progress. In Chile's Atacama Desert, lake-sized lithium fields—aglow in multicolored yellow, orange, and red water—evaporate under the scorching sun in order to extract the precious element that makes environmentally friendly hybrid-car batteries possible. In central London, underground bunkers used to protect citizens during WWII are converted into subterranean farms in a city with precious little agricultural space. Traveling the globe on a four-year quest to document the ways in which humans have impacted the planet and altered its future—and inspired by the Anthropocene Working Group as they lobby the scientific community to name our current age the Anthropocene, or Human Epoch—directors Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, and Edward Burtynsky have created a stunning documentary of almost spiritual force and surreal, jaw-dropping beauty that's equal parts horror and hope, often within the same image. Narrated by Oscar®-winner Alicia Vikander.

Hebe Tabachnik

Director Biography
Jennifer Baichwal was born in Montréal, raised in Victoria, B.C. and studied philosophy and theology at McGill University, receiving a Master's degree in 1994. Since then, she has been directing and producing documentary films, 10 of which screened and won multiple awards in festivals across the world.

President of Mercury Films Inc., Nicholas de Pencier is a director, producer, and cinematographer of documentary, performing arts, and dramatic films. At first a still photographer, Pencier's camera was one day stolen out of his room. Bereft of a camera for 15 years, his next buy was a HI-8 video camera, which he used primarily to film his friends' modern dance and theater performances. It wasn't until he met his future wife and creative partner Jennifer Baichwal (at a job interview) that he kicked into full gear as a cinematographer.

Born of Ukrainian heritage in St. Catharines, Ontario, Edward Burtynsky is regarded as a highly accomplished contemporary photographer. He received a BAA in Photography/ Media Studies from Ryerson University in 1982, and founded Toronto Image Works, a photo lab, darkroom rental facility, digital imaging, and new media computer-training center. His photos are displayed in the collections of over 60 major museums worldwide, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Sponsored by Canadian Studies Center at UW, Center for Global Studies at UW, Consulate General of Canada

  • Director: Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky
  • Principal Cast: Alicia Vikander
  • Country: Canada
  • Year: 2018
  • Running Time: 87 minutes
  • Producer: Nicholas de Pencier
  • Screenplay: Jennifer Baichwal
  • Cinematographers: Nicholas de Pencier
  • Editors: Roland Schlimme
  • Music: Norah Lorway, Rose Bolton
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: Cleveland International Film Festival 2019 (Director Spotlight Award), Canadian Screen Awards 2019 (Best Documentary), Toronto Film Critics Association 2018 (Rogers Best Canadian Film), Vancouver Film Critics Circle 2018 (Best Canadian Documentary), DC Environmental Film Festival 2019 (Polly Krakora Award for Artistry in Film)
  • Filmography: Jennifer Baichwal: Watermark (Doc., 2013); Payback (Doc., 2012); Act of God (Doc., 2009); Manufactured Landscapes (Doc., 2006) | Edward Burtynsky: Watermark (Doc., 2013) | Nicholas de Pencier: Long Time Running (Doc., 2017); Black Code (Doc., 2016)
  • Language: English, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, German
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • US Distributor: Kino Lorber
  • International Sales: Seville International