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The Air We Breath

“The Air We Breathe is an important point-of-view documentary...a good primer on the central issues of urban renewal and pollution control...very informative and handsomely produced... a call to action on the environmental front.”
John Haslet Cuff, The Globe & Mail

“...an invigorating discussion of current lifestyle choices that may be costing us our health.”
Jim Bawden, Starweek (Toronto)

Every year thousands of North American’s die from the effects of air pollution. Hospital admissions for asthma have doubled in the past ten years and air quality specialists are pointing to alarming statistics correlating smog levels with high rates of respiratory disease as well as higher mortality rates. It is only too clear that the costs of breathing polluted air are dangerously high and that despite years of official rhetoric on environmental matters, the overall quality of our air continues to get worse.

Filmed in several major urban centers in Canada and the United States, The Air We Breathe takes an incisive look at how certain political choices and socio-economic forces have led to the growing crises of air pollution and what steps certain cities are taking down the path for cleaner, less polluting transit systems.

With insight and wit, The Air We Breathe exposes the underlying folly of the post-war suburban dream, examining our addiction to the automobile, the environmental consequence of urban sprawl, and the damaging effects of commuter culture on both the air and our overall quality of life. A profile of one suburban Vancouver family illustrates the extent to which the dream has gone sour, turning family members into virtual slaves to the automobile.

The testimony of scientists, activists and urban planners helps map out solutions that include bicycling, zero emissions vehicles and integrated public transit plans for cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Portland and Los Angeles. The Air We Breathe drives home the fact that just as short-sightedness has led to the crisis, only long-term planning that accounts for both environmental and social needs will resolve it.

A co-production of Jim Hamm Productions Ltd. and the National Film Board of Canada, Pacific Centre.
NFB Version: 48 minutes 43 seconds CBC Version: 44:30

Copyright 1996 by Jim Hamm Productions Ltd.

Jim Hamm Productions Ltd.
P.O. Box 211, Bowser, B.C. V0R 1G0, Canada
(778) 424-1110

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Key Credits:
Written, Produced and Directed by - Jim Hamm
Cinematography - Peter Von Puttkamer and Tom Turnbull
Editor - Peter Von Puttkamer
Original Music by - John Sereda
Narrator - Catherine Mead
Producer for the NFB - George Johnson

Corporate Credits:
In Co-production with the National Film Board of Canada, Pacific Centre with Financial Support From Environment Canada, Health Canada, Telefilm Canada, BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs, British Columbia Lung Association, Greater Vancouver Regional District, Natural Resources Canada, BC Ministry of Environment Lands & Parks, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Canadian Gas Association, BC Hydro and West Coast Energy.

Honorable Mention, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival, Seattle, Washington
Screened, United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF), Stanford University 1998
Screened, Earth Vision 99 Film and Video Festival, Santa Cruize


"There is an effective blend of serious and humorous material. Technical qualities were generally good to excellent. Audience level is college and general adult, although it could be shown in high schools. Usage potential is high since content is applicable to a wide range of subjects or curriculum areas."
MC Journal: the Journal of Academic Media Librarianship. Reviewed by Rachel Lohafer, Instructional Technology Center Media Library, Iowa State University

"An excellent discussion of the issue from many aspects, this video will be useful in social studies, health, and environmental studies classes as well as for those seeking information on the subject in general." School Library Journal

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