Director: Jennifer Baichwal

Cast: Edward Burtynsky

Canada 2006 | Colour | 87min

Avaliable on: 35mm, DCP, DVD

Acclaimed by Al Gore as ‘beautiful, insightful and thought-provoking’, Jennifer Baichwal’s award-winning documentary centres on renowned artist Edward Burtynsky, whose large-scale photographs portray the devastating impact of industrial expansion on the environment. Baichwal observes the artist at work amid some of the most surreal landscapes of the 21st century: China’s mountains of computer waste; the Yangtze River where whole towns are disappearing in the flooding caused by the Three Gorges Dam; the shipbreaking yards of Bangladesh; Shanghai, with its increasingly crowded skyline and millions of new inhabitants. Eschewing polemics, Burtynsky aims simply to bring these landscapes into our consciousness, to provoke reflection on some highly inconvenient truths. Yet Baichwal’s film also exposes a tension between ethics and aesthetics: aren’t these images of apocalyptic splendour just a little too seductive? One thing’s for sure: it’s a terrible beauty that’s born.