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PANDALAND: Making IT Count

PANDALAND:  Making IT Count” is about how children become engaged and learn to grapple with big social issues. The filmmaker accomplishes this by encouraging playful exploration in a multi-media installation of 70+ toy pandas she created in her neighbourhood. The vibe of the film is lighthearted and optimistic. As the children initiate an election on behalf of the pandas, their experience embodies community building, demonstrates acts of civic engagement and conveys the important message that, by working together, even young children can effect change.  The film is a life-affirming tribute to kids’ compassion and the birth of their activism!

  • Martha Davis
    PATH, Reading between the Lines, Elephant Dreams, Snow Search, Housebound, Applying and Removing
  • Martha Davis
    Reading between the Lines, PATH, Elephant Dreams
  • Martha Davis
    Reading between the Lines, Elephant Dreams, PATH
  • Martha Davis
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 14 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 6, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    4,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Berlin Shorts Award
    Semi-Finalist, Documentary Short
  • Two “Impact” Docs Awards
    La Jolla, Ca
    United States
    Creativity/Originality and Doc Short
  • The “IndieFEST” Film Awards
    La Jolla, Ca
    United States
    February 5, 2022
    Award: Children/Family Programming
  • London Indiefest
    United Kingdom
    December 28, 2021
    Semi-finalist, Documentary Short
  • Accolade Global Awards
    La Jolla, Ca
    United States
    March 1, 2022
    Award of Recognition: Educational
  • Kids First! Official Selection
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
    United States
    Official Selection
  • WRPN TV Women’s International Film Festival
    United States
    Excellence, Female Director
  • Toronto Documentary Short and Feature Film Festival
    July 3, 2022
    Best Film
  • Kids ‘N Film Festival
    Vallejo, California
    United States
    January 9, 2023
    2nd place, Documentary
  • “Toronto Short” film festival
    March 19, 2023
    Toronto big screen premiere
    Best Documentary
  • Toronto Indie Film Festival
    September 17, 2023
    Best Youth Short
Distribution Information
  • Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre
    Country: Canada
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Martha Davis

Martha Davis has been making films and photographs for the past 40 years in Toronto, Canada. Self-taught, she has created two feature-length films, one of which has screened internationally (“PATH,” 1987), and 18 shorts, two of which were nominated for Genies and were screened at TIFF (“Elephant Dreams”, 1988 and “Reading between the Lines,” 1990). Her films have been screened in festivals, galleries and artist-run centres throughout Canada, and she has received grants from the Canada, Ontario and Toronto Arts Councils to fund her work. In 1991 she began a 2nd career teaching elementary school for the TDSB. During her teaching career she continued making videos with her classes (16 in all) and in her last five years wrote and published eight books of photographs and text with her students. Since retiring in 2017, she has returned to film, and during the pandemic alone has created and self-funded four new short films. With PANDALAND, she has returned full-throttle to working with children, but on her own terms and outside the paleolithic bureaucracy of the school board!

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Director Statement

I originally created PANDALAND as a way for children to enjoy playing outside during the pandemic. But as it evolved and grew, it became so much more than that, and created a sensation in my downtown Toronto neighbourhood. My work has always been concerned with the interactions of people in communities and neighbourhoods, and sometimes employs an intervention in the natural rhythm and flow of everyday events. In this case, it’s the evolving installation of toy pandas in a public place, causing children to engage and then become involved.