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The Hidden Life of Trees Image

The Hidden Life of Trees

Das geheime Leben der Bäume

VIFF Impact | Impact

As a species, we often struggle to see the wood for the trees. It’s a breakthrough, then, to understand that they may be considered one and the same… that forests, like ant colonies, are a kind of superorganism: trees are interconnected, they communicate with each other, and even offer community healthcare in the form of shared nutrients.

Published in 2015, Peter Wohlleben’s international best-seller crystallized a new philosophy of forestry, an area of study co-opted by the timber industry long ago. A forester by training, Wohlleben resigned from his job when he saw the damage wrought by the cycles of clear-cut and single species cultivation in his native Germany. Like the book which inspired it, this doc has an engagingly anecdotal, loose-leaf structure, with Wohlleben as our environmental tour guide, leading us to the oldest known tree (a very slight 10,000-year-old Swedish spruce), through burned out pine farms, digging into deliciously rotting undergrowth, and even sharing a stage with David Suzuki in Victoria, BC. You will never look at a tree the same way again.


Includes an interview with Main subject: Author Peter Wohlleben

Canadian premiere
Director Icon Director
Jörg Adolph

Peter Wohlleben
Executive Producer Martin Moszkowicz
Producer Friedrich Oetker
Screenwriter Jörg Adolph
Cinematographer Daniel Schönauer
Editor Anja Pohl
Music Franziska Henke
Production Company Constantin Film
Source Mongrel Media Inc.
Germany 2020 96 min. German with English subtitles
Media Partners
Community Partners


Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.

Adolph, Jorg headshot


Jörg Adolph was born in Herford in 1967. He is considered one of the leading directors of documentaries in Germany, often making films about the artistic process, including films about publisher Gerhard Steidl and the Oberammergau Passion Play. Last year he was nominated for the German Film Award for Parents’ School. The film was the subject of much public controversy and political debate.

Selected Filmography
Kanalschwimmer (2004); Lost Town (2009); Parents’ School (2018)

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