Manufactured Landscapes shows us the places we're responsible for but never see
Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky sat down with us on the latest episode of The Filmmakers
On the latest episode of The Filmmakers, director Jennifer Baichwal and photographer Edward Burtynsky joined host Johanna Schneller to deconstruct their documentary masterpiece, Manufactured Landscapes — and we have the entire interview in the above video.
Using Burtynsky's images of industrial developments in China, Baichwal's film mediates humankind's impact on the planet in an unparralled way that brought it international acclaim when it was released in 2006. Now over a decade later, Baichwal and Burtynsky look back at how their ambitious collaboration was conducted.
"One of the biggest challenges of the film was how to intelligently translate the meaning of the work — the stills, the photographs — into a time-based medium like film," Baichwal recalls. "We grappled with that, and we could only really do it by being there and kind of saying, 'OK, this is the context, this is where we are...How do we convey this place that people are responsible for but would never normally see?'"
Together, Baichwal, Burtynsky and cinematographer Nick de Pencier did just that.
"The thing that's interesting is that the way that Jennifer and Nick work is very close to the way I work," Burtynsky says. "In other words, that you put the ideas out there and you let the audience grapple with it. And I think that's really interesting because as an artist, to be too didactic [or] to be too specific about, 'This is what you're seeing and this is why you're seeing it' — that doesn't work for me."
It wouldn't have worked for Manufactured Landscapes, either. Part of its power is how it allows us a window into a vision without being told what it is we're looking at. Watch the full interview with Baichwal and Burtynsky above.
The Filmmakers airs this Saturday at 10 p.m. (10:30 NT) on CBC Television, or stream it at cbc.ca/watch. After the episode, stick around to see this week's feature presentation, Across The Line.