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Documentary Films

In the Hodgson Seminar Room (2nd floor, room 200) OR in auditorium, depending on availability.

All films start at 3 PM Films may change without notice due to circumstances beyond our control.

Please note: all films are available for loan through the McGill library system (Redpath Library downtown and/or Macdonald campus).


April 20: Easter. Museum CLOSED.

April 27: The Cove (2009). Academy Award® Winner for Best Documentary of 2009, this film follows an elite team of activists, filmmakers and freedivers as they embark on a covert mission to penetrate a remote and hidden cove in Taiji, Japan, shining a light on a dark and deadly secret. Utilizing state-of-the-art techniques, including hidden microphones and cameras in fake rocks, the team uncovers how this small seaside village serves as a horrifying microcosm of massive ecological crimes happening worldwide. The result is a provocative mix of investigative journalism, eco-adventure and arresting imagery, adding up to an unforgettable story that has inspired audiences worldwide to action. Not suitable for young children.

May 4: Winged Migration (2001). Documentary on the migratory patterns of birds, shot over the course of three years on all seven continents.

May 11: If a tree falls: A story of the Earth Liberation Front (2012). In December 2005, Daniel McGowan was arrested by Federal agents in a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front-- a group the FBI has called America's "number one domestic terrorism threat." For years, the ELF—operating in separate anonymous cells without any central leadership—had launched spectacular arsons against dozens of businesses they accused of destroying the environment: timber companies, SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses, and a $12 million ski lodge at Vail, Colorado. With the arrest of Daniel and thirteen others, the government had cracked what was probably the largest ELF cell in America and brought down the group responsible for the very first ELF arsons in this country. Part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thrilller, the film interweaves a verite chronicle of Daniel on house arrest as he faces life in prison, with a dramatic recounting of the events that led to his involvement with the group. And along the way it asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism.

May 18: MUSEUM CLOSED.

May 25: MUSEUMS DAY.  No film.

June 1: Manufactured Landscapes (2006).Photographer Edward Burtynsky travels the world observing changes in landscapes due to industrial work and manufacturing.

June 8:  Chasing Ice (2012). In the spring of 2005, acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a tricky assignment for National Geographic: to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate. Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change. Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet. Within months of that first trip to Iceland, the photographer conceived the boldest expedition of his life: The Extreme Ice Survey. With a band of young adventurers in tow, Balog began deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers.

June 15: Darwin's Nightmare (2004). A documentary on the effect of fishing the Nile perch in Tanzania's Lake Victoria. The predatory fish, which has wiped out the native species, is sold in European supermarkets, while starving Tanzanian families have to make do with the leftovers.

June 22: MUSEUM CLOSED.

June 29: MUSEUM CLOSED.

July 6:  Waste Land (2010). Filmed over nearly three years, this film follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores”—self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives. 

July 13: The Natural History of the Chicken (2000).  Through interviews and reenactments, The Natural History of the Chicken investigates the role of the chicken in American life and tells several remarkable stories. A Maine farmer says she found a chicken frozen stiff, but was able to resuscitate it. Colorado natives tell a story of the chicken who lost its head-- and went on living. A Virginia farmer tells about (and demonstrates) the benefits of raising chickens for his own consumption. Perhaps most surprising is the case of the Florida woman: she bathes her pet bird, and takes it both swimming and shopping. Through these and other stories, this documentary illuminates the role that chickens play in (some of) our lives.