Banned in Canada, Why Not Here?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (www.njfilmfest.com)
Film Asks: Banned in Canada, Why Not Here?
A Chemical Reaction Set for New Jersey Film Festival
NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY — Aiming to bring Canada’s lawn and garden pesticide revolution to the United States, the producers of the controversial documentary movie “A Chemical Reaction” announced a work-in-progress premiere at the New Jersey Film Festival.
Centered on the small town of Hudson, Quebec, that was the first in North America to ban common lawn and garden pesticides nearly two decades ago, the 80-minute film explores a landmark case decided in the Canadian Supreme Court in 2001. After the Court’s 9-0 verdict against the billion-dollar lawn care giant then known as ChemLawn, most Canadian municipalities followed Hudson’s lead and enacted pesticide bans of their own. In 2008, retail giant Home Depot removed products such as weed ’n feed and Roundup from its shelves in Canada.
“The film asks the obvious question: ‘If Canadians have decided to ban these products, why does the U.S. still sell them?’” said Paul Tukey, the American author and anti-pesticide activist who serves as narrator. “It’s not just a lawn care movie, though. The core story — how a few people in one town could ultimately change an entire nation’s stance — is a testament to the human spirit and what is possible in a democratic society with freedom of the press and an open court system.
Though portions of the film have been previewed favorably at private events across Canada and the U.S., the showings at the New Jersey Film Festival Oct. 4 and 9 mark the first public screenings of the nearly completed project. The festival’s director said he was delighted when the movie appeared among this year’s entries.
“‘A Chemical Reaction’ was one of seven feature-length documentary films selected for public screening by the 2009 New Jersey Film Festival’s panel of judges out of 71 documentary films submitted by filmmakers from around the world,” said Professor Albert G. Nigrin, Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op and New Jersey Media Arts Center. “It’s going to be an important film.”
Tukey noted that New Jersey was the ideal location for the premiere, slated for Rogers Hall on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick.
“The state is truly at the forefront of the anti-pesticide and organic lawn care movement,” said the founder of SafeLawns.org. “Numerous municipalities in New Jersey are looking at pesticide bans of their own and they are encountering the same pressures from the same chemical company lobbyists that Hudson faced. It ought to be easy to make our lawns and playgrounds safe for our pets and kids, but it’s not. There are billions of dollars at stake here and the lawn care companies won’t give that up without a major fight.”
The film marks the first feature project for director Brett Plymale, an Emmy nominated videographer and editor. He plans to attend both the Oct. 4th and 9th screenings. Tukey will be on hand for Oct. 4.
“I feel fortunate to be involved in the telling of such an important world-changing story, one that has not been explored previously in a movie format,” said Plymale. “If we did our job well, we have the opportunity to effect change — which is probably every documentarian’s goal.
“Initially I wanted to make this film simply because it’s a great story of a modern-day David vs. Goliath,” said Plymale. “But as I delved deeper into the intricacies of how the movement gained momentum and the impact that it had on the entire continent of North America, my motivation has become more driven to find out what forces are at work to shape public opinion, and why we collectively, willingly do things that are potentially harmful to ourselves.”
The film has already earned solid reviews from initial press screenings.
“It’s one of the most eye-opening environmental documentaries I’ve ever seen,” said Tim Rhys, founder of MovieMaker magazine. “Like Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock before them, Tukey and Plymale do an outstanding job of bringing an insidious health issue to light in a way that’s both entertaining and engaging. If you have children and care about the world they’re growing up in, then despite the fact that it may leave you shaken, if not enraged, A Chemical Reaction is a film you need to see.”