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Water and the City: Revitalizing Our Urban Spaces

  • Evergreen Brick Works 550 Bayview Avenue Toronto, ON Canada (map)

Special FREE screening in partnership with Evergreen Brick Works!

What can we do to revitalize and maintain urban waterways in Toronto?

Don't miss this chance to see 7 fascinating short films on urban watersheds at Evergreen Brick Works. Although rivers and waterfronts are critical to the health of cities, many are in need of revitalization or transformation. From Saint John to Milwaukee to San Francisco and others, these films share glimpses of the inspiring journeys of individuals and groups as they took very different actions to protect their water, often against substantial odds.

The BMO Atrium at Evergreen Brick Works / HOW TO GET THERE: The Evergreen shuttle bus to Broadview subway station will be extended until 10:00pm.

Watch 1 international premiere and 5 Canadian premieres:
Alice’s Garden | USA
The Lungs of the City | USA
Healing Baltimore’s Harbor: A Pipe Dream? | USA
The Return of Harbor Porpoises to San Francisco Bay | USA
From the Water | CANADA
Keeper of the Creek | USA
Onward Ever: The Becoming of Indiana’s White River | USA

Stephen Scharper recent UofT photo.jpg

Emcee: Dr. Stephen Scharper, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Alice's Garden
Jenny Plevin
USA | 2018 | 9.5 min
Canadian Premiere
Award Winner | Best Short Film

Alice’s Garden, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is situated on the grounds and waterways that provided safe harbour for freedom seekers as part of the Underground Railroad.  Today, these sacred grounds continue to uplift the community through urban agriculture and community engagement. In this powerful short, Alice’s Garden’s Executive Director, Venice Williams, passionately connects the grounds valuable history with its present ability to serve hundreds of families, and with the need to conserve and protect the land through innovative water solutions for future generations.  ALICE'S GARDEN is a deeply illuminating and heartfelt film.

The Lungs of the City
Harrison Swanson & Oliver Czuma
USA | 2018 | 14 min
International Premiere

THE LUNGS OF THE CITY tells the controversial history of Chicago’s lakefront, through entertaining and sometimes bizarre stories, which include George Lucas of Star Wars fame, the legality of (breaking) the Public Trust, and the development of ‘natural’ beaches.  The film serves to inform of the painstaking task of creating and maintaining the aesthetic of a natural waterfront within a booming urban setting.

Healing Baltimore's Harbor: A Pipe Dream?
Sirjaut Kaur Dhariwal & Crysal Berg
USA | 2017 | 27.5 min
Canadian Premiere

As explored by the Centre for Environmental Filmmaking at the University of Washington, Baltimore’s national landmark harbour has become plagued by pollutants, toxins, stormwater runoff and sewage backup, which has reduced it from its one time glory to a detriment to the immediate wildlife, human life and economic life of the city.  And yet, in order to face the clean-up head-on, local water keeper organizations study the dilapidated city infrastructure and begin to fight for clean water and their beloved city.

The Return of Harbor Porpoises to San Fancisco Bay
Jim Sugar
USA | 2016 | 9.5 min
Canadian Premiere

Having abandoned San Francisco Bay in the early 1940s, the harbour porpoise have now returned, 65 years later, as a top-level predator and an indicator of the improving health of the bay.  As the film explores, aggressive water health restoration, beginning with the formation of the Save the Bay Foundation in 1963, has allowed for the once dead body of water to again take on life with the return of dolphins, whales, sharks and the famed harbour porpoise.

From the Water
Greg Hemmings
CANADA | 2018 | 11.5 min
Canadian Premiere

FROM THE WATER follows the active surf and paddle-board community that formed five years after an intensive harbour rejuvenation effort in Saint John, New Brunswick. Set to a touching poem by Robert Moore, which was inspired by the local water keepers, this experimental short pays homage to the human capacity to right a wrong done against nature, and to nature’s ability to provide community members with an inspiring place to play in their own backyard.

Keeper of the Creek
Dan Goldes
USA | 2018 | 4.5 min
Canadian Premiere

Joel Goldes, a park steward in his hometown of Oak Park, California, is living proof that one person can improve the health of the world around them.  For the past six years, Goldes has been collecting litter, trapping invasive crayfish, reopening blocked streams, and championing for his local park at city council hearings.  Even as a singular voice in the fight for the park’s viability, Goldes’ need to be helpful keeps him committed to this noble cause. KEEPER OF THE CREEK is an inspirational story about the power of one.

Onward Ever: Becoming of Indiana's White River
Brandon Walsh
USA | 2018 | 16 min
Canadian Premiere

In weaving together interviews from city infrastructure workers, environmental activists, illustrators and sculptors, youth volunteers and more, ONWARD EVER explores the need for a clean and viable river system, on which so many people along Indiana’s White River depend.  In doing so, the film asks viewers to reconsider ‘not how to live life, but why to live life’ in conjunction with nature.


A panel discussion will follow the screenings.


Dr. Debby Danard: Evergreen Guest Panellist (Indigenous Woman)

Richard Huggard: From the Water  (Hemmings House Pictures VP of Creative Development)


Dr. Dara Orbach, Ph.D., is a Canadian behavioural ecologist and functional morphologist. She is particularly interested in the interface between behaviour and anatomy, and uses innovative approaches to explore evolutionary patterns related to the mating systems of cetaceans (whale, dolphins and porpoises). Her doctoral work at Texas AM University at Galveston investigated pre- and post-copulatory mating strategies of female cetaceans, including the harbour porpoises of San Francisco Bay. For the past two years, she has been a postdoctoral researcher and adjunct professor at Dalhousie University and a research associate at Mount Holyoke College where she continues exploring marine mammal mating behaviours in the wild. Dara’s research has been published in numerous international scientific journals and book chapters, and featured in television documentaries, radio shows, and dozens of periodicals including Science, National Geographic, and Newsweek.


Oliver Czuma, Executive Producer. Oliver is a Loyola University Chicago alumnus, is a communications professional and filmmaker who enjoys creating content for education and advocacy use. He developed a love and fascination for water at a young age by practicing sustainability through aquaponics, and closely observing marine life in his saltwater aquarium. It was a natural step to work on The Lungs of the City utilizing his passion and skills simultaneously.


Harrison Swanson, Executive Producer. Harrison is a Chicago-based filmmaker, producer, and musician who specializes in digital marketing and documentary content. His passion for storytelling began at an early age, leading him to pursue a B.A. in Film & Digital Media Production from Loyola University Chicago. After creating his first documentary, El cuerpo del bomberos, in Santiago, Chile, Harrison went on to co-produce the documentary, The Lungs of the City, as a way to increase awareness about Chicago's lakefront story. In addition to his documentary work, Harrison creates marketing videos for various clients throughout Chicago.


Brandon Walsh, Director. Brandon is a video producer based in Indianapolis, IN. His commercial work has been nationally recognized, and his short films have screened in a number of festivals across the Midwest.

Please support Ecologos initiatives by purchasing Water Docs T-Shirts ($25) and Water Bottles ($20) available at all Water Docs Film Festival screenings.

Earlier Event: March 5
Later Event: March 20
The Water Warriors