What Happens When a Film Festival Tries to Change the World?

Article sponsored by Water Docs

About six months ago, the core team at Water Docs was trying to figure out how to make this year’s film festival new and different from past years. The reason why we wanted it to be different this year in particular was because this year is different. This year is the Water Docs Film Festival's 10th anniversary.

Ten years is no small feat for any organization, especially a small, non-profit organization like ours. For us, this has been a decade of showcasing the best environmental films and documentaries focused on water and climate change from around the world to tens of thousands of audience members. It has been a decade of strengthening the conversation around what environmental stewardship is and how we can ensure a liveable climate for generations to come. It has been a decade of inspiring the masses through film and art to not only raise awareness and educate, but also to encourage our audiences to take real climate action outside the cinema walls.

Our brainstorming led us to wondering how we could grow this message and make a real splash with our film festival this year. We quickly came to the realization that for us to truly inspire change and reach new audiences, we needed the help of other like minded, motivated organizations.

We began reaching out to other Canadian film festivals and scholarly organizations that we had previous relationships with, to get a sense if there was interest in joining a movement, an event, that we, ourselves didn’t fully understand yet. To our surprise and delight, it seemed that many others were itching to take part too.

The idea quickly began taking shape. We would work with other film festivals and environmental organizations to create a collaborative festival celebration dedicated to water and climate awareness and action. We would stand together for our world and use each other's voices and platforms to amplify some of the most moving environmental documentaries the world had to offer.

Something else we noticed in our early planning was that after COVID leaves the headlines, the next collective challenge we must all face is undoubtedly the climate crisis. This made the timing of our event even more important. As many of us know, there are only a few precious years remaining to slow and stop the effects of climate change, so it is vital that we hold this event now and make it as far reaching as possible.

What we have created is a six-day film festival that audiences across the country and beyond are invited to participate in. It showcases more than 40 documentary films, both features and shorts, along with informative online Q&A and panel discussions with filmmakers, newsmakers, experts and advocates.

“As film festivals, it’s in our genes to understand that documentary film is the storytelling of our times,” says Stan Gibson, Executive Director of Water Docs. “There’s power in numbers, and we look forward to uniting and engaging audiences in profound ways, and providing experiences that move people deeply to spark meaningful climate action now.”

The idea of “power in numbers” grew exponentially when we formed a media partnership with Corporate Knights, an organization that we’ve long respected and admired for its focus on how companies, markets and governments are advancing social and environmental sustainability. We are proudly aligned with Corporate Knights’ ongoing mission to influence public sentiment, and moreover public policy.

If running an environmental film festival for 9 years has taught us anything, it’s that we can change the world through film. And that’s exactly what we intend to do November 9 through 14 with ReSurge: Canadian Film Festivals for a Liveable Climate. You can purchase your passes and view our entire film schedule right now.

Thank you to our film festival partners and other community groups joining forces with us for this one-of-a-kind collaboration:

BANFF World Media Festival
Calgary Justice Film Festival
Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival
Forest City Film Festival
Guelph Film Festival
Hot Docs International Documentary Festival
imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
Kingston Canadian Film Festival
Outdoor Outdoor Film Festival
Ontario Water Works Association (OWWA) Student Chapter of the University of Toronto
ReelWorld Film Festival
Silver Wave Film Festival
The Water Institute, University of Waterloo
Vancouver Short Film Festival
Wakefield Doc Fest
What About Water? Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS)

Please consider this your personal invitation to join us in this unique collaboration as we celebrate our 10th anniversary. See you at the movies!

Full access festival passes are now on sale.

To see our full lineup of extraordinary films, please visit our website.

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