Ellen Page is now calling the shots from behind the camera.
The “X-Men” star makes her directorial debut with “There’s Something in the Water,” the new Netflix documentary she co-directed with Ian Daniel about the impact of environmental racism on marginalized communities in her native Canada.
“Environmental racism is essentially the disproportionate placement of landfills, hazardous industry, et cetera, put next to indigenous and black and other marginalized communities,” Page tells me on this week’s episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast “The Big Ticket.” It’s also about the slow response of the government.”
Page was inspired by Dalhousie University professor Ingrid R. G. Waldron’s book “There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous & Black Communities.”
Page and Daniel initially headed to Nova Scotia to meet with Waldron and local activists with the idea of filming short videos about the issue to post on social media. But they decided the footage was strong enough for a feature documentary. They completed the film just two days before its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September. “We just hit the ground running because we wanted to get it out as soon as possible because of the urgency of these issues,” Page says.
The doc includes footage of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being confronted by women from Sipekne’katik First Nation opposed to an Alton Gas natural gas storage facility near the Shubenacadie River. “He’s not doing a very good job, particularly in regards to environmental issues that affect indigenous people, and very much supporting corporations that are invading the lands of indigenous people,” Page said of Trudeau. “Despite declaring a climate emergency, [he] continues to support these corporations. That’s incredibly unfortunate. I most certainly hope that changes.”
As for President Donald Trump’s dismissal of climate change, Page says, “It’s devastating. It’s destroying the world. It’s destroying the future. It’s happening right now. Again, it’s disproportionately affecting marginalized people in the United States, Canada and in so many places in the world. It’s mind-blowing to me that those with power and influence and significant wealth wouldn’t want to do everything they could to stop this.”
Page hasn’t decided on what she’ll direct next, but it will likely be another documentary rather than a scripted narrative film. “I really gravitate to nonfiction,” she says. “In general, that’s what I read. I do have such an interest in that space, more in the direction way versus, of course, my job as an actor, which I’m grateful to do and love in the space of fiction.”
“There’s Something About the Water” premieres Friday on Netflix.
You can listen to the full interview below. You can also find “The Big Ticket” at iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.