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Life Off Grid (2016)—CanadaLife Off Grid (2016)—Canada

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live "off the grid." And what that question even means. Is it a state of mind? A remote place? Disconnecting from the internet or throwing away my cell phone? This film is a good and provocative introduction to that question. It admires its subject, but it never romanticizes it. From 2011 to 2013 the film makers Jonathan Taggart (Director) and Phillip Vannini (Producer) traveled across all of Canada, to every province and territory, to find and then interview 200 "off-gridders" in their own homes. As you would expect, these people are remarkably independent and self sufficient; they build their own houses, chop their own wood, grow their own food, collect rain water, etc. The entire town of Inuvik in the Northwest Territories is in a real sense off grid. Another interview is with a co-op commune. Broadly speaking, you begin to realize that there are two main groups of people who are all struggling with a similar set of experiences, challenges, inventions, aspirations, and ways of life. There are the ideological purists, and then there are the pragmatic realists. I was surprised at how many off-gridders have TV, and that virtually everyone still has the internet. A significant part of the film deals with energy — electricity, and how to produce it on your own through water, wind, and sun. One thing is for sure after watching this film: there are no easy answers to these complicated questions, especially because the problems raised are global and systemic, whereas these fascinating people offer only individual and personal responses. I also note two major subjects that were entirely missing from the film: health care and school for children. I watched this film on Amazon Prime Video.

Dan Clendenin:

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