Detail from film "May We Grow" by Erika MacPherson (Regionalista Films)
The day I came home and found the orange dot spray painted on our tree I felt like I had been punched in the gut.
—Erika MacPherson, filmmaker
A new film that's premiering on March 10 pays
homage to the global forest, the trees of the earth. It's a reminder to pay
attention to our lives and the lives of those around us.
May We Grow was produced, directed, written, filmed, edited and narrated by Erika MacPherson. Original music is by Christine Fellows and John K. Samson.
SCENE asked MacPherson to share the inspiration for the film:
I lost one of the two boulevard elms in front of my house to Dutch Elm disease two years ago. The day I came home and found the orange dot spray painted on our tree I felt like I had been punched in the gut.
An orange dot, the kiss of death. I didn't realize how profoundly the loss of that tree would affect me.
I grieved the tree like a family member and it seemed everyone I talked to shared this experience, this grief of losing a tree. They're coming down so quickly all over Winnipeg.
A friend passed on a book by Diana Beresford-Kroeger called The Global Forest, 40 Ways Trees Can Save us. Her work impressed on me the urgency to wake up, to remember the interconnection between us and trees.
I had never really thought about the reality that trees evolved on this earth and made what was a toxic atmosphere of carbon dioxide breathable so we could eventually evolve into being. They led the way.
So I approached MTS Video on Demand about making a film that talked about this gift from the trees, the gift of our life.
An arbourist told me that Winnipeg has the largest urban forest in the world: 198,000 elm trees. He also told me that I should get used to the idea that we won't have this old forest in 10 years. I don't know if either of these are hard facts but the idea that Winnipeg could be a canopy-less city of seedlings opened the story up. Decimation and renewal.
As I embarked on four seasons of documenting the goings-on around my yard and boulevard what unfolded was a musing on the inevitability of death. Not death as finality but the unavoidability of death and the bittersweet joy that comes from paying attention to everything around us. To our relationship with life itself. All this within a few paces of my front door.
For every breath I take, I can thank a tree. My life is a gift of the global forest. I want to help them out. I want to stand up for them.
May We Grow premieres at the Freeze Frame International Film Festival for Kids of All Ages on Sunday March 10 at 3 p.m. at Cinematheque.
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