Does the most widely used weed killer in the world cause cancer? On October 3, 2023, Film Movement and Fathom Events invite audiences to discover for themselves with a special one-night only nationwide theatrical release of INTO THE WEEDS, which follows the story of groundskeeper Lee Johnson and his fight for justice against agrichemical giant Monsanto (now Bayer, which bought the company in 2018), the manufacturer of the weed killer, Roundup. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization, classified glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup – as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” A year later, Johnson filed a lawsuit claiming that Ranger Pro, a commercial-grade variant of Roundup, was a substantial contributing factor in causing his Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Johnson’s was the first “bellwether case” in a mass tort against Monsanto involving tens of thousands of plaintiffs: gardeners, golfers, farmers, groundskeepers, and ordinary people, following and trusting the instructions on the label. Director Jennifer Baichwal (Manufactured Landscapes, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch) seamlessly blends together interviews, testimonials, trial footage, news coverage, and vérité, the film follows the progression of this groundbreaking lawsuit, while also stepping back to consider the systemic impact of glyphosate-based herbicides on human health, our food systems, and the biodiversity of our planet.
The nationwide theatrical event on October 3 opening on more than 600 screens is being supported by the following NGO Official Screening Partners: Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Re:wild Your Campus, Pesticide Action Network North America, Green America’s Soil & Climate Alliance and the Center for Food Safety.
About the filmmaker – Jennifer Baichwal has been directing and producing documentaries for 25 years. Among other films, installations and lens-based projects, she has made nine features which have played all over the world and won multiple awards nationally and internationally. Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles won an International Emmy in 1999. The Holier It Gets, a documentary filmed in Canada and India, won Best Cultural and Best Independent Canadian Documentary at Hot Docs, 2000, and won Geminis for best writing, directing, and editing in a documentary series. The True Meaning of Pictures, a meditation on the work of Shelby Lee Adams, won a Gemini for Best Arts Documentary in 2003, and continues to be used widely as a pedagogical tool in photography and film studies throughout North America. Manufactured Landscapes won, among others, TIFF’s Best Canadian Film and Al Gore’s Reel Current Award. It played theatrically in over 15 territories worldwide, after a prolonged and successful run in Canada, and was named as one of 150 Essential Works In Canadian Cinema History by TIFF in 2016. Act of God, about the metaphysical effects of being struck by lightning, opened the Hot Docs Film Festival in May 2009. Payback, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Massey Lectures produced by Ravida Din and the National Film Board, premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012 and was released in Canada and the U.S. that spring. The feature documentary Watermark, made with Edward Burtynsky and Nicholas de Pencier, premiered at TIFF 2013, was released in Canada by Mongrel Media and won the Toronto Film Critics Association prize for Best Canadian Film in January 2014. It has since been released in eleven countries. Baichwal and de Pencier co-directed Long Time Running, a feature documentary on the Tragically Hip’s 2016 summer tour. The documentary, produced by Banger Films, premiered as a gala at TIFF 2017, was subsequently released by Elevation Pictures, and was broadcast by Bell and Netflix. The Anthropocene Project, Baichwal’s most recent collaboration with de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky, includes a major touring exhibition which debuted simultaneously at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada; an art book published by Steidl; an educational program in partnership with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and a feature documentary film, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, that premiered at TIFF 2018, played Sundance and Berlin, then won the Toronto Film Critics Association Prize for Best Canadian Film and a Canadian Screen Award in 2019. Baichwal sits on the board of Swim Drink Fish Canada, and is a member of the Ryerson University School of Image Arts Advisory Council. She has been a Director of the Board of the Toronto International Film Festival since 2016. Into the Weeds is Baichwal’s tenth feature documentary.
“Through deft editing and a keen sense of detail, Baichwal manages to compress the case of Johnson vs. Monsanto Company into a superbly paced, tightly wound thriller.” – Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail
“Provides another illustration of coldblooded corporate denialism in the face of widespread harm.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
“Into the Weeds effectively drives home the message that corporate greed and the lack of regulation makes victims of everyday people.” – Raquel Stecher, Quelle Movies
“Extremely important, essential viewing that affects every one of us.” – Anne Brodie, What She Said
“Into the Weeds is a cautionary environmental story that raises unsettling questions about what’s in the food we eat, and how our farming practices are affecting the biosphere.” – Karen Gordon, Original Cin
“Compulsively watchable….” – Marc Glassman, POV Magazine