2011 – Short Films

In addition to the three short films created especially for Place and Placelessness, please find a list of links at the bottom of the page to nine other short films found free online. While the three short films created by Amanda Hooykaas, Sinead & Patrick Earley, and Cristina Silaghi will be the focus of the plenary discussion (see Workshop Program), the other films are intended to supplement the discussion on the subject of Environmental History and Film. Participants are expected to watch all three of the short films featured below, as well as however many of the additional films found through the links provided at the bottom of the page.


Lost in Space: Found in Place (5 min, 31 sec)

Amanda Hooykaas, University of Wateloo

Short Film abstract:

This short film explores the relationships between place and self and history and future. Through an examination of creating a dwelling out of a space, this film attempts to capture the essence of Thoreau’s Walden Pond in today’s society. Compelling, thought-provoking, and aesthetic, this film challenges audiences to consider their own places in space, whether physically, spiritually, or otherwise.


Fire Season (5 min, 7 sec)

Sinead Earley, Queen’s University & Patrick Earley, Langara College

Short Film abstract:

The largest wildfire in Alberta’s recorded history, known as the Bitumount Complex, has burnt over 750,000 hectares in the Waterways region of the province, north of Fort McMurray. Ground and aerial footage recorded from the frontlines and from helicopter provide a very immediate and visceral experience of the conflagration, captured by Patrick Earley, a member of a privately contracted fire crew. The absence of narration and social commentary in the film is an intentional choice, attempting to highlight the sounds and movements of fire and smoke as they consume and transform the landscapes they move through. Interpretation and discussion will be left to the workshop participants. The only voices presented in the film will be by way of radio dispatches and crewmembers as they work.

Fire season confronts provincial ministries, industries and communities across Canada annually, without relent. The film hopes to provoke thoughts on natural resource use, management and protection under the broader context of climate and environmental change.


Southern Quartet (4 min, 48 sec)

Cristina Silaghi, University of Canterbury

Short Film abstract:

In Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience (1977), Yi-Fu Tuan connects seasonal variations to a cyclic sense of time; he writes about ‘… the pendulum-like swing of the seasons’. Tuan considers seasons to be natural rhythms reflective of astronomic time and its repetitions. Since my arrival in Wellington, New Zealand, I have become attentive to daily weather changes more than to the changes brought along by the seasons. I have found aspects of every season surfacing in my immediate environment, sometimes within the span of hours. Rapid variations in temperature and humidity constantly reshape the colours, textures and rhythms of the city, pointing to a characteristically dynamic relationship between weather and place.

My short film inquires into patterns of time as made visible by location. In Wellington, the traces of spring, summer, autumn and winter can be encountered in everyday objects and activities, enduring structures, or unexpected micro-events. The recording of personal observations has led me to articulate a place-related, materially manifested map of the seasons. Southern Quartet presents various facets of spring, summer, autumn and winter at work in my daily experience and environment.


Additional Films

The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes (16 min, 40 sec) – In this short documentary from conservationist Bill Mason, he illustrates that although the Great Lakes have had their ups and downs, nothing has been harder to take than what humans have done to them lately. In the film, a lone canoeist lives through the changes of geological history, through Ice Age and flood, only to find himself in the end trapped in a sea of scum.


Away (3 min, 5 sec) – The filmmaker of this short documentary used his cellphone camera to shoot these scenes in Costa Rica. He reflects on the dichotomy of nature versus technology. Part of the MobiDOCS: Confessions in a Digital Age series.


The Changing Forest (17 min, 58 sec) – A brief essay on the ecology of a forest along the Laurentian Shield, in Quebec. We see the forest as an integrated community of living things, balanced by conflict as well as harmony, and learn why the maple tree is best able to survive the struggle for supremacy in the Laurentian forest area.


Small Smoke on Blaze Creek (9 min, 39 sec) – Forest fire in mountainous British Columbia, as experienced by the men who must try to quench it from the air and at close quarters on the ground. Over half of fire outbreaks occur through carelessness, and this film affords a close, vivid view of the result: a whole mountainside turned into a searing, crackling holocaust until nothing remains but gray, desolate waste–mute reproach to all who travel or work in the forests.


Young Agrarians (8 min) – Young people plant the seeds for a sustainable future in this portrait of organic farming in California.


Affairs with Bears (27 min) – High in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California lies Mammoth Lakes, a small town with a growing population of trash-eating black bears. The task of managing the wild new residents falls on Steve Searles, an eccentric bear-man who has devoted his life to re-instilling the black bear’s natural fear of humans. Steve’s unique solution to the bear problem involves yelling, foot-stomping, and other forms of getting in a bear’s face to express “in a language that they can understand” that humans are the dominant species. His methods have evolved into a progressive alternative to traditionally lethal ways of dealing with problem bears. This film explores the issue of public safety versus bear safety, and how prepared Steve would be should he ever have to take the life of one of his beloved bears.


300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds (5 min, 39 sec) – Fossil fuels have been the driving force behind the industrialisation of much of the world over the past two centuries. But as we reach the end of the era of cheap coal and oil it is time to look towards a post-fossil fuel future.


Every Third Bite (9 min) – In the past few years, millions of bees have disappeared from their hives. More than just a honey matter, the lives of bees are connected to us and our ecosystems in more ways than we can count.


Roderick Haig-Brown: “Fisherman’ Fall” – Part One (6 min, 44 sec) – Canada’s National Film Board made a short film about Roderick Haig-Brown and the natural beauty of the Campbell river during the autumn months.

Roderick Haig-Brown: “Fisherman’ Fall” – Part Two (6 min, 56 sec)


  1. […] Short Films […]

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