Forest for the Trees - The Tree Planters
Forest for the Trees - The Tree Planters
Forest for the Trees - The Tree Planters
Forest for the Trees - The Tree Planters
Forest for the Trees - The Tree Planters
Forest for the Trees - The Tree Planters
Forest for the Trees - The Tree Planters
Forest for the Trees - The Tree Planters
Forest for the Trees - The Tree Planters
Green Planet Films

Forest for the Trees - The Tree Planters

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FOREST FOR THE TREES - The Tree Planters 
The road to recovery is one step at a time

This visually and artistically unique documentary explores the physical and emotional aspects of a community of Canadian west coast tree planters. Deftly weaving together still photos and film footage, Rita Leistner, an award-winning photographer, photojournalist, filmmaker and erstwhile tree planter (who has been nominated for a 2022 Canadian Screen Award for Best Cinematography for her work in this film), depicts the contradictions in the experiences of the tree planters—the hardship and the healing; the solitude and the joy of belonging—creating an eloquent cinematic metaphor for the human condition.

As the film opens, a birds-eye view of a logging truck loaded with newly-felled trees meaningfully shifts to a panoramic shot of desolate clear-cut terrain. Here a lone figure, weighed down on all sides with heavy bags of seedlings, plunges a shovel into the ground, bends to nestle the tree into the hole, gently covering it up before moving on to the next. This is done thousands of times a day by tree planters who endure inclement weather, voracious insects, injuries, hunger and crushing fatigue. Alone with their thoughts, the planters describe for the camera how the work has helped them overcome a myriad of personal issues ranging from addiction and mental illness to self-doubt, heartbreak and grief.

Finding common cause, self-knowledge and meaning in their formidable task, the tree planters restore themselves and each other in the process of restoring the environment.

Directed and Produced by Rita Leistner

Film Trailer - 2 mins
Book Trailer - 4 mins
Demo "Portraits of Tree Planters" and "Making Art" - 4 mins
Bear Deterrent - 1 min
Rookies - 4 mins
Rita Leistner Interview, with filmmaker Katherine Knight - 7 mins
Poetry - 4 mins
The Odds - 2 mins
Creating the Musical Score, with Kevin Quain - 5 mins

90 minute feature plus 33 minutes of  bonus clips | SDH Subtitles

forest for trees poster

“Riveting doc Forest for the Trees is an evocative, layered and fascinating
study on perseverance and the deep connections between body and mind.
Leistner captures the strength and determination of individuals up against
something much bigger than themselves.”
— Jen McNeely, film critic, She Does The City

“Knock-out gorgeous! Leistner is a magnificent story-teller.”
— Jean McGothlin, Founder, Sebastopol Film Festival

“Leistner is a force of nature and as real as they come.”
— Manfred Becker, Filmmaker, Program Director, Film Studies York University

“An utterly wonderful film.”
— Patrick Hort, Founder Mammoth Climate Action Cinema, UK

“Just dazzling! The whole film is such a cascade of revelations. It just keeps
turning into something else, and then something else again.”
— Will Aitken, film critic and novelist

“Stunning and brave and truthful.”
— Heidi Sopinka, novelist


book cover