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A rare glimpse of life in the trees

Vancouver Island filmmaker looks at our Rainforests
Vancouver Island filmmaker Richard Boyce climbs ancient old-growth in the making of Rainforest.


Catch a rare glimpse of life at 60 metres above ground in Rainforest: The Limit of Splendour, screening at Open Cinema, Wed., Feb. 22.

Winner of the Best Mountain Culture Film award at the 2011 Whistler Film Festival, this documentary by Vancouver Island filmmaker Richard Boyce brings the audience to remote corners of Vancouver Island and takes close look at the logging practises that threaten the old-growth forests and unique animals, insects and ecosystems that exist in their canopies.

With breath-taking imagery taken from angles most people can never imagine seeing first-hand, Rainforest is both inspiring and educational in its scope, as it uncovers the haunting reality of the situation in B.C.’s old-growth forests.

Boyce has spent nearly his whole life in the rainforest, growing up near Parksville and even living two years in a tree canopy while protesting the building of a parking lot in the famous Cathedral Grove. Boyce and the other protesters eventually saved paradise from being paved in that case, but more than 90-per-cent of B.C.’s low-lying ancient forests, like valley bottoms, have been logged, putting many plants and animals at risk of extinction.

“These ecosystems have been around for 10,000 years and it’s only taken us 150 to eradicate them,” says Boyce.

Boyce set out to find what’s left of the old growth in valley bottoms and his search took him to Klaskish Inlet, north of Brooks Bay.

“This is one of the last stands of pristine forest,” says Boyce. “And of 91 watersheds on the Island, only four are still pristine, and this is one of them.”

He went in by boat with a climbing team and ecologist Zoe Lindo to take a closer look at what lives in the canopy. So far, Lindo has discovered almost 140 species of insects that survive exclusively in aerial gardens that grow in the canopy of ancient trees.

Boyce also visits the Kingcome Inlet and the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, where chief Adam Dick (Kwaxsistalla) taught him about the Kwakwaka’wakw’s relationship with the gentle giants.

“He instilled a sense of responsibility and value in me that is foreign to modern society,” says Boyce.  “Modern society is based on dollars, and so in that case [the old-growth forest] is worth billions, but where those billions get to go is the key — because it’s not local communities anymore, they’re exporting the raw logs and the money is being stored in off-shore banks. We’re not getting the tax dollars we should be.

“When I started this film, there was 1.2 million cubic metres of wood exported annually, now it’s 5.5 million.”

Boyce adds a personal touch on this documentary, allowing himself to become one of the characters in the film. “I wanted people to feel like they were on a personal journey because it’s easier to relate to me and my journey, and feel my pain, my joy and the exhilaration of climbing a tree. And I think that comes across in the film really well.”

Boyce is excited to bring the film to Open Cinema because he has roots in Victoria and was at one time on the board of MediaNet, which offers Open Cinema as one of its programs.

“It’s so great to bring Rainforest back to the people that helped start the film,” says Boyce. “Their technical, creative and moral support was totally invaluable, priceless.”

“Filmmaking is done individually, but it’s done for an audience. I’m hoping the audience falls in love with what they see and fight passionately to protect it, show the film to others and engage people in conversation. It can get overwhelming at times, but I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t have faith that we can change things.”

Boyce will be in attendance for the post-screening discussion, along with speakers TJ Watt (Ancient Rainforest Alliance) and Ken James (Youbou Timberless Society).

As usual, Open Cinema’s food concession includes The Joint pizza, Bubby Rose brownies, free Fernwood coffee, door prizes and cash bar. M


Open Cinema presents:

Rainforest: The Limit of Splendour

Wed. Feb. 22, doors at 5:30 p.m.

Victoria Event Centre (1415 Broad)

$10 - $20 donation