A film by Kevin McMahon
2020, 93 minutes
No. 324

“The design of nature is music. If you listen to the trees, you will hear a song.” – Conservationist and author Diana Beresford-Kroeger

In his new feature documentary Borealis, acclaimed director Kevin McMahon (Waterlife) travels deep into the heart of the boreal forest to explore the chorus of life in Canada’s iconic wilderness.

Borealis offers an immersive portrait of the forest from the perspective of the plants and animals that live there. Humans are only beginning to understand the complex networks that nurture and sustain this unique ecosystem, as well as the things that destroy it. Natural threats such as insects, drought, and fire have joined with extractive industries like oil development and logging to tip the delicate balance. In a rapidly warming climate, many of the survival strategies adopted by different organisms no longer work, and massive change is underway. As herbalist Isabelle Desrochers-Stein explains, “What happens to the forest is going to be a reflection of what happens to us.”

An artful balance of science and spirit, Borealis calls on the voices of scientists, Indigenous people, and environmentalists to make clear the urgent need for greater understanding and alliances with the natural world. But ultimately it is the voice of the forest that endures.