A new film on B.C.'s old growth forests, with a focus on the Fairy Creek blockades, is making its debut at the Whistler Film Festival this month.
Before They Fall, directed by Cam MacArthur, is produced by Whistler-based Ecologyst Films.
MacArthur said he wasn't actually setting out to make a film about the protests around the Fairy Creek watershed, which has become one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history.
"It was supposed to be an eight-minute-long short film," MacArthur said. "A month into production, [the Fairy Creek blockade] just blew up and we knew there was no telling this story without making Fairy Creek a huge part of it. So now it's half the film."
The Fairy Creek watershed is one of Vancouver Island's last remaining unprotected old-growth stands of coastal temperate rainforest. Some of the massive trees in the area — like yellow cedars and Douglas firs — are up to 2,000 years old, support a great variety of ecological diversity, and store a lot of carbon. The area is the traditional territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation.
Protesters arrived to the site, a two-hour drive from Victoria, over a year ago to prevent Surrey-based logging company Teal-Jones Group from working. The company obtained an injunction against the protesters on April 1, which the RCMP have enforced since mid-May. Over 1,100 people have been arrested.
MacArthur's film is a depiction of this timeline and the interaction between land defenders, enforcement agencies, and logging companies. He says this is not a solutions-oriented film, but one from the heart.
"We didn't go into the economics of it or some of the more granular details. We really just set out to make a cinematic celebration of all the people protecting the forest," he said.
Rande Cook, a Ma'amtagila hereditary chief and artist who is featured in the film, says the film comes at a very important moment for British Columbia and Canada.
"It's a conversation that's so important right now because it involves all of us. It really truly is about the future of our planet and our environment," Cook said.
"As a First Nations person, speaking to the history of our connection to the land and our philosophy that we have upheld for a long time where essentially, there is an obligation we carry to protect Mother Earth."
The Whistler Film Festival is streaming online until the end of the month. Over 66 films are available to screen online anywhere in Canada.