Archive for the ‘ Documentary ’ Category


Tapped, 2009, USA

By Jennifer Hanson

This documentary examines the bottled water industry and the damage it is doing to small town water supplies, the environment and human healthy.  In the past few years, bottled water has become extraordinarily popular, and it has created a perception that tap water is “unsafe”.

I very rarely purchase bottled water.  I’ll buy it, maybe, twice a year, if I’m desperately thirsty and don’t happen to have my reusable water bottle with me.  The fact is, 40 per cent of it is filtered tap water, according to the documentary.  Most people have no reason to purchase bottled water, because there are excellent water filtration systems available.  I drink a lot of water, and have a Brita water filter.  I fill it up a few times a day, and the water is excellent. Even when I have to drink tap water, I don’t mind, because Winnipeg’s tap water is delicious.

The bottled water industry is almost completely unregulated.  This actually makes it less safe than tap water, which is strictly regulated.  The bottles water comes in contain a variety of different chemicals that leach into the water.  They are also made using rendered crude oil, so millions of gallons of a non-renewable resource is going into the production of bottles that often end up in a landfill or in the ocean.

Nobody could call this documentary unbiased.  Many representatives from the bottle water industry were edited in an almost mocking way.  But the information presented is so important.  As a society, we often purchase products without thinking of the consequences they have for the world around us.  Bottled water hurts water supplies, the environment and even our own bodies.  Here in Winnipeg we are so lucky to have access to clean and delicious water, so why should we spend money on bottled water?  A litre of bottled water costs more than a litre of gasoline!

When the “general public” gets into a legal battle with a major corporation, they need all of the help and publicity they can get.  The makers of this documentary have done a great service to the small towns currently fighting Nestle, Coca-Cola and Pepsi.  Hopefully this film will help inform the public of the harm bottled water does.  While we may assume that it is safer or healthier than tap water, that is simply not the case.

If you are looking for an unbiased look at the bottled water industry, I would suggest you skip this documentary.  But if you are interested in learning more about the effect bottle water has on the planet, I’d highly recommend you watch this film, which is available on Netflix.




Kimjongilia, 2009, USA/France/South Korea

By Jennifer Hanson


This documentary is named after the flower, which is named after Kim Jong-il.  This film is especially relevant now that Kim Jong-il has died.  The future of North Korea remains unclear, but, hopefully, its future is brighter than its existence was under the rule of the “Dear Leader”.

Kimjongilia lacks narration, and features interviews from a number of North Korea prison camp survivors.  One interview subject is Kang Chol-Hwan, who wrote The Aquariums of Pyongyang.  He entered into Yodok Concentration Camp at age nine and remained there for a decade.  He was arrested with his family because of an unnamed “crime” his grandfather committed.  North Korea has a policy of arresting three generations of family when someone has committed a crime.  Each subject details the harsh treatment they received, their subsequent escape or release, and the impact their incarceration has had on their life and the lives of their family members.  It’s very touching and horrifying.

There is some footage from the prisons in this documentary, and footage of Kim Jong-il.  The most interesting footage is that of some of the propaganda films produced by the North Korean government.  These sequences featured characters so overwhelmingly happy and bubbly that they are, plainly, ridiculous.  When contrasted with the famine occurring in North Korea, these films feel even more insulting.  It’s hard to believe anyone in North Korea believes this propaganda.  The country is the most isolated country in the world, and many of the interview subjects explained just how naïve they felt upon escaping the country.  I imagine most North Koreans pretend to believe this propaganda out of fear.  If there is any misstep (for example: Not crying hard enough at Kim Jong-il’s funeral), then they, and their entire family will be thrown into a prison camp.

It’s hard to imagine how bleak life would be like under such a regime.  This documentary is an important one.  The west is aware of Kim Jong-il’s eccentricities (his love of western movies and love of kidnapping actors to produce movies are notable examples), but many are not aware of just how poorly North Korean citizens are treated.  Most countries close to North Korea (with the notable exception of China) will deport North Korean refugees to South Korea.  Kim Jong-il may have been regarded as a joke in North America (see: Team America: World Police), but him and his father were ruthless to their countrymen.  Even the North Korean military isn’t given enough food to live on.

It sure wasn’t an easy film to watch, but it was a very thought-provoking film.

4/5 stars