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Apr 1 2021 Film /

TSA Playlist | April: Earth Day


First celebrated in the United States in 1970 — and in Canada on September 11, 1980 Earth Day is an annual day of action for environmental protection and the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement. 

In honour of this day of action and awareness, this month’s TSA Playlist features films that reflect on how we have shaped and changed our planet, as well as how we can contribute to its regeneration and health. Included in this selection are sobering movies capturing the gargantuan scale of human impact on Earth and how it might be seen by those with an out-of-this world perspective, to inspiring films exploring alternative paths and solutions being rolled out across the world that are redefining our relationship with our planet, its environment and each other.


Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
2018 | 1hr 27 min | Trailer

Anthropocene is the third film in a series of collaborations between Canadian filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier with photographer Edward Burtynsky. This highly acclaimed film explores the emerging concept of a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene, defined by the impact of humanity on natural development.

The film is a stunning and eye opening cinematic documentation of humanity’s massive reengineering of the planet and puts a frightening twist on the standard nature documentary. Rather than exalting the awesome beauty of landscapes or animals, it captures alarming ways in which that beauty has been disturbed. Highlights in the film include the giant metal smelters in Norilsk, the most polluted city in Russia; the monumental marble quarries of Carrara, Italy; and surreal lithium pools in Chile’s Atacama desert.

Watch it on TVO Watch it on Hoopla Watch it on Kanopy



What on Earth!
1966 | 9 min

A humorous but biting satire, this Oscar nominated short film tells the story of what Martians discover when they come to Earth: a planet populated with intelligent earthlings automobiles. When life on Earth is portrayed as one long, unending conga-line of cars where everything is geared to the ubiquitous automobiles, a crew of extra-terrestrial visitors understandably assume they are the dominant race. While humans, on the other hand, are merely parasites they have yet to  exterminate.

Watch it on NFB



Suzuki Diaries: Sustainability in Action
2008 | 44 min | Trailer

A solutions-focused film, Suzuki Diaries: Sustainability in Action follows well-known Canadian geneticist, environmentalist, and broadcaster David Suzuki and his youngest daughter Sarika as they travel across Europe to investigate how different countries are building sustainability into the fabric of contemporary life. From the German Reichstag to the Spanish rail system, Denmark’s wind farms to French biodynamic orchards, the ideas, innovations and inspiring individuals they encounter prove that sustainability does not mean sacrificing quality of life. 

Watch it on Curio



Growing Cities
2011 | 59 min | Trailer

Growing Cities is a documentary film that examines the role of urban farming in America and asks how much power it has to revitalize our cities and change the way we eat. 

Taking us on a trip across the USA, the film explores how cities are feeding themselves, meeting urban farmers, policy makers and everyday citizens who are challenging the way we grow and distribute our food, one vacant city lot, rooftop garden, and backyard chicken coop at a time. Along the way it explores the many forms of this grassroots movement—from those growing food in their backyards to make ends meet; to educators with the goal of teaching kids to eat better; to activists seeking a meaningful alternative to the industrial food system, and more. 

Looking for some educational resources? The filmmakers have prepared a discussion guide for post-screening talks!  

Watch it on Kanopy Watch it on Hoopla



The Garden of Secrets
2019 | 20 min | Trailer

Throughout history, people have sought connections with nature. In particular, designers have observed nature, investigated its materials, then imitated and abstracted its forms and qualities.

The Garden of Secrets is a documentary film exploring the value of looking to nature for design solutions and reveals botanical gardens as the ultimate “idea libraries”. Sanctuaries where a wealth of these solutions, perfected over billions of years of trial, have been assembled at the doorsteps of the scientists, engineers, and designers tackling today’s most pressing challenges. Watch for the appearance of Denis Allen Hayes, an environmental advocate who was the coordinator of the very first Earth Day in 1970.

Watch it on Vimeo



The Economics of Happiness
2011 | 1hr 09 min | Trailer

An award-winning documentary produced by the non-profit Local Futures, The Economics of Happiness explores the connection between environment, economics and happiness — contrasting the effects of our globalized economic system with a localized alternative. The film features many voices from six continents as they call for systemic economic change and showcases examples of how groups across the world are embracing local, community-scaled systems.

Watch it on Kanopy Watch it on YouTube Watch it on Vimeo



Mark Carney: Net-zero
2020 | 19 min  

In this recent interview, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance Mark Carney speaks about how private finance is increasingly aligned behind achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, where emissions produced equal those removed from the atmosphere. With a unique global perspective, the interview covers topics such as carbon disclosure, the role of large and small companies, and the ambitions of national climate plans.

Does his name sound familiar? Mark Carney served as Governor of the Bank of Canada (2008-2013). 

Watch it on un.org



About the TSA Playlist

The TSA Playlist is a monthly curated list of free online films touching upon issues of architecture, the built environment and design. Our thematic lists do more than just entertain; they inspire us, enrich us, and challenge our perspectives helping bring the conversation of the built environment to new audiences and encourage conversation and debate.

Have a suggestion of a film or theme you would like to see featured? Let us know at tsa@torontosocietyofarchitects.ca

Be sure to also check out the past editions of the TSA Playlist


January | Community

A black and white photo of a woman holding her child in one arm, smiling, standing in front of her front porchFebruary | Black History Month

March | Home


June | Outdoors

July | O Canada


September | Community Shorts

How to access the Playlist

Our TSA Playlist films are available free of charge for online screening through a number of streaming services in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond including Kanopy, TVO, CBC Gem, and Hoopla. Our monthly list includes viewing links on platforms available in the region. Some of these streaming services might require you to have a free library or university card to access the service. See list below for where these streaming services are available.

Kanopy is currently available through the following library systems and universities in southern Ontario: Toronto PL, Hamilton PL, Oshawa PL (until July 3), Stratford PL, Newmarket PL, Whitby PL, London PL, Guelph PL, University of Toronto, Ryerson University, University of Waterloo, George Brown College, Seneca College, Centennial College and Sheridan College. If you don’t see your library listed, you can verify if your library has made Kanopy available here. Got a university card instead? You can check if your university has made Kanopy available here.

Hoopla is currently available through the following library systems and universities in southern Ontario: Toronto PL, Barrie PL, Kingston PL, Mississauga PL, Kitchener PL, Niagara Falls PL, Peterborough PL and Orillia PL.