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Toxic Trespass
A film by Barri Cohen
Canada, 2007, 53 minutes, Color, DVD
Order No. W09976
When Canadian filmmaker Barri Cohen discovers that her ten-year-old daughter’s blood carries carcinogens like benzene and the long-banned DDT, she travels to toxic hotspots to uncover startling clusters of deadly diseases. Juxtaposing interviews with affected families and experts with startling facts and footage, this film offers evidence that industrialized countries are conducting large-scale toxicological experiments on their children.

In the southern Ontario cities of Windsor and Sarnia, everyone seems to know children who have suffered from respiratory illnesses, leukemia, and brain tumors. And the Native Canadian reserve of Aamjiwnaang, ringed by Sarnia’s “Chemical Valley”, has an astounding birth rate problem that officials can’t afford to ignore.

As childhood cancer rates skyrocket, Cohen meets dedicated activists working for change and doctors and scientists connecting the dots between environmental pollution and illness. She also learns how fast barriers can go up when posing questions to federal authorities about toxins and health—and how much information the government obscures from its citizens about public health. Empowering and moving, TOXIC TRESPASS is one woman’s quest for truth and essential viewing for anyone concerned about pollutants’ growing effects on our and our children’s lives.


Writer’s Guild of Canada, Screenwriting Award: Best Documentary
Columbus Film & Video Festival, Honorable Mention: Best Science & Technology Film

  • DOXA Documentary Film Festival
  • Planet In Focus Film Festival
  • Flagstaff Film Festival
  • Paris International Environmental Film Festival
  • Sarnia Justice Film Festival
  • EcoSavvy Festival
  • Green Reel Environmental Film Festival
  • Ripple Effect Eco Film Festival
  • BANFF World Television Festival
  • World Community Film Festival
  • Antigonish International Film Festival
  • Yorkton Film Festival

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    “A must see for everyone who is concerned about the 400 million tons of chemicals per year being produced by industrial countries around the world. Films like [this] empower us, literally give us the tools, to make the world safer for our children.”
    Joni Adamson
    Assoc. Professor, English & Environmental Humanities, Arizona State University

    “Exceptional. The great strength of the documentary is that children, dissenting scientists, women, and Native American groups are given a voice.”
    Sophie M. Lavoie
    Feminist Review

    “Impels all of us to work to defuse the toxic time bomb of unregulated chemical contamination…The film will be especially useful for teachers of environmental activism and the politics of public health.”
    Dr. Paul C. Rosier
    Co-editor, “Echoes from the Poisoned Well"

    “TOXIC TRESPASS is the type of doc that will make your blood boil, and not just from the foul chemicals in the air.”
    Jesse Wente
    CBC Metro Morning

    “Well crafted and with a gentle sense of humor…. solid, eye-opening viewing.”
    Jennie Punter
    Toronto Globe and Mail

    “A documentary film that inspires community action.”
    Ellen Reynolds
    Canadian Women’s Health Network

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    Toxic Trespass is included in the following Special Collections.
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WMM offers film collections on a variety of specific subject areas, including the collections VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Ending the Silence, BODY IMAGE, and AFRICAN-AMERICAN: Celebrate the Lives of African-American Women.

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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitiates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us