VIFF: 'That Which Once Was' and 'Rainforest'

by Kyle Empringham
The film transports you to 2032, a time where tsunamis and earthquakes have ruptured our way of living. Things simply aren’t the same; islands have gone underwater due to climate change, forcing many to become refugees of the environment.
This short 20-minute film follows Vicente, an 8-year-old boy who has no family left and fears the water – the thing that changed forever the life he once knew. He takes a journey with a local ice sculptor from Nunavut to figure out what life could possibly mean in the aftermath.

From toppling over blue paint cans, to stimulating shots of oscillating fans, the imagery in the movie demonstrates the situation with realism. The details in the movie are endless, with numbers tattooed on every refugees arm, starting with ER (environmental refugee). Shattering ice and radio broadcasts stimulate the audience and bring you into the film. My only wish is that the movie was longer!
To see the trailer and to learn more about this movie, please check out the Futurestates website.
Richard Boyce’s newest documentary, Rainforest, recently premiered at VIFF and has gotten the attention of many eco-enthusiasts at the festival. Raised on Vancouver Island, his passion for the area shows through his actions and his speech.
Before the movie started, Chief Adam Dick sang a local message to his ancestors, asking permission for us to view the movie and do what is necessary to bring this situation to light. As he said in the movie, “This is what we sang to our ancestors, the ones you now replaced.”
This movie takes us on a journey through the forestry practices that take place on the more remote areas of the island. It’s a practice that isn’t commonly known about, considering the roads to these logging areas are unpaved and largely inaccessible from the more habited areas of the island.

Boyce does a great job at showing glimpses of the services these old growth forests provide. He shows their importance to First Nations group and their practices, and to scientists that are discovering species of mites within tree canopies. He clearly states the importance of these stands, despite the unfortunate (and successful) attempts at clear-cutting them. The juxtaposition between local knowledge and logging gives an interesting image that still resonates within my mind.
Boyce also shows the chilling protests (and their physical defiance) that happens when the two groups collide. Giving access to footage on such a grave reality shows how public participation is viewed within the industry, and the unfortunately small impacts it has had on the practice of logging.
One of Boyce’s greatest techniques that I appreciated was his use of silence to tell the story. By muting noise and letting the images speak for themselves, it allows the viewer to really take the scene for what it is without the extravagance of sounds or music.
This movie is not one to miss. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, you can check out their website at
Kyle Empringham is Co-Founder and Editor of a new environmental news site, The Starfish ( He is also currently enrolled in graduate studies at Simon Fraser University, studying Resource and Environmental Management.