Short Film: PANDALAND: MAKING IT COUNT, 14min., Canada, Documentary

Directed by Martha Davis
“PANDALAND: Making IT Count” is about how children became engaged and learned to grapple with big social issues. The filmmaker accomplished this through play in a multi-media installation of 70+ toy pandas she created in her neighbourhood. The vibe of the film is lighthearted and optimistic. As the children engage in an election on behalf of the pandas, the film embodies community building, demonstrates acts of civic engagement and conveys the important message that, working together, even young children can effect change. The film is a life-affirming tribute to kids’ compassion and the birth of their activism!

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Director Biography – Martha Davis

Martha Davis has been making films and photographs for the past 40 years in Toronto, Canada. Self-taught, she has created two feature-length films, one of which has screened internationally (“PATH,” 1987), and 18 shorts, two of which were nominated for Genies and were screened at TIFF (“Elephant Dreams”, 1988 and “Reading between the Lines,” 1990). Her films have been screened in festivals, galleries and artist-run centres throughout Canada, and she has received grants from the Canada, Ontario and Toronto Arts Councils to fund her work. In 1991 she began a 2nd career teaching elementary school for the TDSB. During her teaching career she continued making videos with her classes (16 in all) and in her last five years wrote and published eight books of photographs and text with her students. Since retiring in 2017, she has returned to film, and during the pandemic alone has created and self-funded four new short films. With PANDALAND, she has returned full-throttle to working with children, but on her own terms and outside the paleolithic bureaucracy of the school board!

Director Statement

I originally created PANDALAND as a way for children to enjoy playing outside during the pandemic. But as it evolved and grew, it became so much more than that, and created a sensation in my downtown Toronto neighbourhood. My work has always been concerned with the interactions of people in communities and neighbourhoods, and sometimes employs an intervention in the natural rhythm and flow of everyday events. In this case, it’s the evolving installation of toy pandas in a public place, causing children to engage and then become involved.

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