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A Chemical Reaction World Premiere Set

They knew the film’s general underlying story from the newspapers. They were impressed by what they saw on the screen. But when the officials of the World Film Festival of Montreal asked for the official movie credits for “A Chemical Reaction,” they couldn’t quite believe their ears.

After they had selected our movie they asked for a crew list, and the answer was always the same. They asked me who was our editor. I said, ‘Brett Plymale.’ They asked me who was our director of photography. I said, ‘Brett Plymale.’ They asked me who was our producer, our director, our soundman. I answered, ‘Brett Plymale’ every single time. He absolutely did it all with this film. The fact that it got completed at all is a true testament to his virtuosity as a filmmaker and as a tough, resilient human being.

The 80-minute film, Plymale’s first, will unveil its World Premiere at the 33rd World Film Festival scheduled for Aug. 27 to Sept. 7. Exact screening times for this and hundreds of other films will be announced later in August.

Telling the story of the first town in North America to ban cosmetic lawn and garden chemicals, the movie will add fuel to a long-burning fire in Canada and the United States. When Hudson, Quebec, told the lawn care giant then known as ChemLawn that it couldn’t apply its products within town borders in 1991, it set off a chain of high-profile court cases that culminated in the Canadian Supreme Court in 2001.

The town, suburb of Montreal, won the case in a landmark 9-0 decision and the chemical ban soon spread to the entire province of Quebec. Ontario enacted lawn chemical restrictions this past Earth Day and dozens of other municipalities have also passed legislation. Canadian citizens still debate similar bans daily, however, in dozens of Letters to the Editors and in coffee shops and town halls from Halifax to Vancouver.

“Hudson’s ban was the catalyst that set the dominos into motion,” said Dr. Merryl Hammond, an environmental activist from Baie D’Urfe in Quebec. “Once we saw what Hudson did, we said, ‘Why can’t we do that, too?’ Then you saw towns across the nation follow suit.”

For Brett and myself, who produced a half-hour weekly gardening program for the American cable network HGTV for three years, the ultimate motivation is to bring the lawn chemical movement to the United States where political lobbying from chemical companies is fierce. ChemLawn recently changed its name to TruGreen, apparently as a result of the negative fallout from Canada, but most see that as just the first step in a long, nasty battle surrounding the $80 billion lawn care industry.

“When U.S. citizens see that Home Depot in Canada doesn’t sell weed ’n feed and Roundup and similar products, we want them to ask why those products are still sold in the United States,” said Plymale, who left his primary day job in March to work non-stop on finishing the film. “We also want them to see what the citizens of Hudson, Quebec, accomplished by standing up and speaking out. So many people feel powerless against the government, and that’s true in Canada and the U.S. Hudson is a shining example of how Democracy ought to work.”

Montreal, just 20 miles East of Hudson, is the ideal venue for the World Premiere.

One of our mottos for this movie has been ‘From Hudson to the World. Really, we’re just thrilled to bring this to Montreal. It truly is the audience that should see the movie first.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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  • Mark

    I’m interested in seeing the documentary and will be in Montreal around that time. The film fest people said it wasn’t being shown. Can you tell me when and where it will be playing? Appreciate it.

    • Paul Tukey

      Well, they gave us a letter of acceptance and they have begun accepting our materials, so we’ll be there. We’ll let you know of exact dates as they become available.

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