Forest for the Trees

Shared Planet
Closed Captions
Director: Rita Leistner | Countries of production: Canada | Year: 2021 | Length: 88 min
Language: English | Age: 12+ years

A war photographer’s immensely moving documentary about a group of tree planters, where emotional renewal is threaded with that of the land.

Planting trees is backbreaking work, done at an exhausting pace: physically gruelling, emotionally demanding, and often done in solitude amidst barren, inhospitable environments. And yet, to a community of tree planters on the Canadian west coast, some kind of rare, inimitable healing emerges from such hardship – from the bearing down of bodies on hard earth. Award-winning war photographer Rita Leistner, who was once a tree planter, captures the unbearably moving ways that tree planting intertwines the small with the vast, the individual with the collective. A fascinating and deeply human portrait of labour, where personal reckonings with grief and loss are echoed in the earth, being replanted one tree at a time.


Content notes: Contains discussion of self harm, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, with a brief mention of climate grief. Brief depiction of scars from self harm.

Access notes: Mainly bright, well lit images interspersed with white animations on a black background. Gentle music and dialogue throughout. Brief flashes of light towards the end of the film (1:17, 1:18).


Screening as part of #TOAFF23