Into the Weeds

by Jennifer Baichwal
A gripping documentary following the bellwether case against agrichemical producer Monsanto, whose herbicide is alleged to cause cancer.
2022  ·  1h36m  ·  Canada
About the Film

INTO THE WEEDS follows groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson and his fight for justice against Monsanto (now Bayer). Johnson’s case was the first to go to trial in a series of lawsuits involving tens of thousands of plaintiffs claiming Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup, or its industrial counterpart Ranger Pro, contributed to their cancer. The film follows this groundbreaking trial, while also stepping back to consider the systemic effects of the world’s most widely used herbicide.

As we toggle back and forth between the detail and scale of this ubiquitous product’s impact, it becomes clear that the Johnson verdict will have global repercussions. Our anchor is always Lee: his philosophy, his struggle, and his fight for justice in the face of debilitating and terminal illness. Will Monsanto (Bayer) be forced to change Roundup’s label? To compensate the myriad victims? To address the wide-ranging ecological effects? We consider the limitations of mass torts and using the courts as a tool for social good, and the likelihood of money damages affecting the practice of a company worth billions. By telling Johnson’s story, INTO THE WEEDS ultimately considers whether this kind of David vs. Goliath fight is capable of instigating lasting and substantial change.

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

Jennifer Baichwal
Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier
Executive Producer
Nicholas de Pencier, Daniel Iron, Geralyn Dreyfous
Associate Producer
Nadia Tavazzani
Jennifer Baichwal
Roland Schlimme, David Wharnsby
Nicholas de Pencier, John Price
Daniel Lanois, Martin Tielli
Dave Rose, Lou Solakofski
About the Director

Jennifer Baichwal

Jennifer Baichwal was born in Montréal and grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. She studied philosophy and theology at McGill University and received an M.A. in 1994, supported by a McGill Major Fellowship and a 2 year FCAR Master’s Scholarship.

Jennifer Baichwal has been directing and producing documentaries for 25 years. Among other films, installations and lens-based projects, she has made nine features which have played all over the world and won multiple awards nationally and internationally. Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles won an International Emmy in 1999. The Holier It Gets, a documentary filmed in Canada and India, won Best Cultural and Best Independent Canadian Documentary at Hot Docs, 2000, and won Geminis for best writing, directing, and editing in a documentary series. The True Meaning of Pictures, a meditation on the work of Shelby Lee Adams, won a Gemini for Best Arts Documentary in 2003, and continues to be used widely as a pedagogical tool in photography and film studies throughout North America. Manufactured Landscapes won, among others, TIFF’s Best Canadian Film and Al Gore’s Reel Current Award. It played theatrically in over 15 territories worldwide, after a prolonged and successful run in Canada, and was named as one of 150 Essential Works In Canadian Cinema History by TIFF in 2016. Act of God, about the metaphysical effects of being struck by lightning, opened the Hot Docs Film Festival in May 2009. Payback, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Massey Lectures produced by Ravida Din and the National Film Board, premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012 and was released in Canada and the U.S. that spring. The feature documentary Watermark, made with Edward Burtynsky and Nicholas de Pencier, premiered at TIFF 2013, was released in Canada by Mongrel Media and won the Toronto Film Critics Association prize for Best Canadian Film in January 2014. It has since been released in eleven countries. Baichwal and de Pencier co-directed Long Time Running, a feature documentary on the Tragically Hip’s 2016 summer tour. The documentary, produced by Banger Films, premiered as a gala at TIFF 2017, was subsequently released by Elevation Pictures, and was broadcast by Bell and Netflix. The Anthropocene Project, Baichwal’s most recent collaboration with de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky, includes a major touring exhibition which debuted simultaneously at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada; an art book published by Steidl; an educational program in partnership with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and a feature documentary film, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, that premiered at TIFF 2018, played Sundance and Berlin, then won the Toronto Film Critics Association Prize for Best Canadian Film and a Canadian Screen Award in 2019. Baichwal sits on the board of Swim Drink Fish Canada, and is a member of the Ryerson University School of Image Arts Advisory Council. She has been a Director of the Board of the Toronto International Film Festival since 2016. Into the Weeds is Baichwal’s tenth feature documentary.