Islanders’ film gets Wildscreen Panda nomination

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A Salt Spring Island-based filmmaker has been nominated for this year’s Wildscreen Panda Awards for her film entitled Toad People.

The awards are held every year in Bristol, U.K. and are considered the “Academy Awards of wildlife films.” Isabelle Groc, the director of Toad People, is honoured to be named among industry heavy hitters like David Attenborough and National Geographic.

“It’s truly a great honour to be nominated for this festival,” she said. “There are 37 films nominated and for us to be among that group is quite special. We are also the only fully Canadian production represented. It’s an extra honour for us.”

The western toad is an unlikely champion for conservation, but the yearly struggle faced by the species during its migration has gotten the attention of communities across B.C. The toads are born in the wetlands and need to migrate as juveniles each year to the forests, where they live out their lives. Their migration paths are often criss-crossed by roads and highways, which pose a significant danger for the small creatures. Each year, a large number of toads are killed by cars when crossing the road. The film looks at the ways people in grassroots organizations have been working to save the toads.

“What was interesting about this story is that local residents, not biologists or scientists, but just regular people, saw all these toads being killed on the road. They felt very compelled to do something about it,” Groc said. “We felt that there was a story there about people of all ages feeling compassion for the toads . . . It’s called ‘Toad People’ because it is not just about the toads, it’s about the people who care about species at risk in their backyards.”

For more on this story, see the August 1, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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