Call Of The Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom Of Trees is a passionate eco-documentary that wants viewers to see both the forest and the trees. Invited to admire the strapping strength and beauty of a single California redwood, we are also asked to consider the global importance of healthy forests, from sacred woods in Japan to boreal forests in Manitoba.
Narrated in a folksy yet authoritative manner by Gordon Pinsent, Call Of The Forest represents a five-year collaboration between the Peabody Award-winning Winnipeg filmmaker Jeffrey McKay and Diana Beresford-Kroeger, an Ottawa-area botanist, biochemist, writer and self-described ‘renegade scientist’. Beresford-Kroeger speaks eloquently about the interconnection of biodiverse forests with air quality, water purity and soil fertility, something that replanted monocultures can’t replicate.
With cinematography that is often breathtaking and never clichéd, the film takes viewers on a journey through the woodlands of the northern hemisphere, starting with what is called ‘forest-bathing’ in Japan, in which people walk through the trees to bask in their beauty and resiny aura. In California, we meet a scientist who talks about the sequoia as ‘a pretty easy tree to fall in love with’. And while the Amazon jungle gets a lot of press, Canada’s boreal forest is just as crucial in the fight for the planet’s future, and the film also explores indigenous approaches to land conservation.
One should know going in that Call Of The Forest is an advocacy documentary, meaning McKay is passionately putting forward one viewpoint. This is occasionally a drawback, as when Beresford-Kroeger sometimes veers off into mystical musings. But it’s also a strength, giving the film a deeply personal sense of commitment.
Call Of The Forest will make you see trees with new eyes. And McKay and Beresford-Kroeger want you to do more than see. Like many advocacy documentaries, Call Of The Forest ends with a call for action. The filmmakers want you – yes, you! – to plant a tree. As soon as possible.
– Alison Gillmore, Winnipeg Free Press