17 Dec 2010

From ground-breaking book tour to documentary film

By John Fanshawe
In 2009, Margaret Atwood, co-President with Graeme Gibson of BirdLife’s Rare Bird Club, redefined the book tour, taking her new novel: The Year of the Flood, on a defining journey, through the US, Canada, and Europe. The tour has now been captured with a new film entitled In the Wake of the Flood. At more than 40 venues ranging from the spectacular medieval cathedral at Ely in the UK’s East Anglia fens, to Berlin and Hamburg in Germany, Zurich in Switzerland, Albuquerque in New Mexico, Vancouver in British Columbia, and many more, Atwood entertained and challenged audiences with a deeply felt vision of a troubling future for mankind. Nor were these simple readings. As Ron Mann’s excellent new documentary film, In the Wake of the Flood, reveals, Atwood collaborated with the composer, Orville Stoeber, to meld music and theatre to bring key characters from the book to life.  Performing as the narrator herself,  she worked with local singers, choirs, and actors, ahead of each launch, ensuring the tour’s overall carbon-footprint was cut to a minimum. In her 70th year, Atwood has lost not one bit of her passion for the environment she grew up with in the backwoods of Northern Quebec. Ron Mann’s unusual film takes new and archival footage of The Year of the Flood tour giving an intimate behind-the-scenes insight into the concerns felt by one of the world’s literary stars for a world unravelling in the face of climate change and rampant consumption. Mann weaves together warning and hope, allowing Atwood to both unsettle and inspire her audiences. For more information on the film, please click here. For more information on The Year of the Flood and forthcoming events, go to the dedicated website for the book here. Another Atwood campaign has been for bird-friendly coffee growing and she has worked with the specialist coffee roasters, Balzac, to produce a brand: Balzac’s Atwood Blend, which not only tastes great, but also raises the profile of shade-grown coffee – the best for birds – and funds for both the Pelee Island Bird Observatory, and for the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre.  For more on this unique collaboration, go here. Margaret Atwood is the Joint Honorary President of BirdLife's Rare Bird Club with her husband, Graeme Gibson. The Rare Bird Club is an exclusive international community of concerned individuals who are determined to make a difference. Through BirdLife International, it provides the resources which help to deliver successful projects to reverse the global decline in species and improve the quality of peoples’ lives. Its contribution helps to ensure the long-term investment that is essential for sustainable conservation. The Rare Bird Club meets together to share the excitement of nature, learn about conservation work and experience the rigours and delights of wildlife through visits to projects in the field. If you'd like to find out more about The Rare Bird Club, please click here.