Elliot Page and Gaycation collaborator Ian Daniel shift gears with the documentary There's Something in the Water, a disturbing and, frankly, terrifying portrait of ecological and social disasters in Page's native Nova Scotia.
Based on Ingrid Waldron's incendiary study, the film follows Page as he travels to rural areas of the province that are plagued by toxic fallout from industrial development. As did Waldron, the filmmakers discover that these catastrophes have been precisely placed, all in remote, low income - and very often Indigenous or Black - communities. As the filmmakers observe, your postal code determines your health. We're introduced to many courageous women. Louise, from Shelburne, gives us a tour of a neighborhood in his hometown where every house has been affected by cancer.
Michele fights to protect "A?se?k", or Boat Harbour, once a sanctuary for Indigenous people, now plagued by toxins spewed by a pulp and paper mill. The government only began addressing this when other whiter, wealthier communities were affected. (In one stomach-churning moment, it's explained that the company went to great effort to divert the offal towards "A?se?k".) And a group of "Mi?gmaq" activists known as The Grandmothers fight to protect a river threatened by a gas company.
All of it is deeply sobering and scary, but like Page and Daniel we may find solace in the bravery of their subjects, who are the kind of resourceful and compassionate people you should place your bets on. If, as Louise poignantly asks, you don't care about other people, "What do you get up for every day?"
World Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival 2019 and Netflix Original
“The film sheds a vital light on the decades — nay, centuries — of mistreatment marginalized communities have suffered at the hands of corporations, aided by their own government.” – Indiewire
“an eye-opening experience, especially as it is set in country we tend to idealize for its wholesomeness.” – Hollywood Reporter
About the filmmaker
Elliot Philpotts-Page, actor, activist, producer, and director. A seasoned child performer, he started out in Canadian feature films and TV series, winning two Gemini Awards by the time he was 18. Their intense performance in the American indie Hard Candy (2005) led to high-profile roles in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and the indie smash Juno (2007). Juno earned him an Independent Spirit Award and an Oscar nomination and made him a household name virtually overnight. Adept at quirky comedy (Whip It, Super), intimate drama (Marion Bridge, Mouth to Mouth) and big-budget blockbusters (Inception, the X-Men franchise), they are equally well-known for his environmental activism, his advocacy for LGBTQ rights and his grounded, socially-conscious persona.
Ian Daniel is the Co-host and Executive Producer on Viceland's Emmy-nominated TV show Gaycation. Gaycation follows Ian and his co-host actress Ellen Page around the world as they explore LGBTQ culture and rights. He is also a producer, filmmaker, writer, and curator. Daniel is originally from Indiana and now lives in works in New York.