Still from Living Downstream
Still from Living Downstream

Living Downstream

by Chanda Chevannes
A powerful reminder of the intimate connection between the health of our bodies and the health of our air, land and water.
2010  ·  1m  ·  Canada
About the Film
Raised in small-town Illinois, cancer seems to run in Sandra Steingraber’s family.  Sandra was diagnosed with bladder cancer when she was just twenty years old.  Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when Sandra was in high school.  Many of her aunts and uncles have struggled with the disease.  One aunt even died from the same form of bladder cancer that Sandra had.  But while cancer runs in her family, she cannot say that it runs in her genes.  Sandra is adopted.  This unusual twist led Sandra to ask what else families have in common besides their DNA.  The answer is all around us: our environment. Based on the acclaimed book by ecologist and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., Living Downstream is an eloquent and cinematic feature-length documentary.  This poetic 85-minute film follows Sandra during one pivotal year as she travels across North America, working to break the silence about cancer and its environmental links. As our journey begins, we follow Sandra in her professional life.  After a routine cancer screening, Sandra receives some worrying results and is thrust into a period of medical uncertainty.  Thus, we begin two journeys with Sandra: the private and the public. But Sandra is not the only one who is on a journey – the chemicals against which she is fighting are also on the move.  We follow these invisible toxins as they migrate to some of the most beautiful places in North America.  We see how these chemicals enter our bodies and how, once inside, scientists believe they may be working to cause cancer.
Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

Nathan Shields
Chanda Chevannes and Nathan Shields
Benjamin Gervais
Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D.
Production Company
The People’s Picture Company
Special Thanks
The Ceres Trust, Kendeda Sustainability Fund of the Tides Foundation, The Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund, Canada Council for the Arts, Park Foundation, Canadian Auto Workers – Social Justice Fund, The Cancer Prevention Challenge (Ya Ya Sistahs & Bruddahs Too! and Team Vitality), Doris Cadoux & Hal Schwartz, the Saunders-Matthey Cancer Prevention Coalition
Film Related
About the Director

Chanda Chevannes

Chanda has been the driving force behind a wide range of creative documentary-based projects. Chanda aims to make documentaries that deal with complex social issues in an artistic way.
Chanda’s most recent film is Living Downstream, a cinematic documentary about cancer and environmental toxicants. Based on the acclaimed book by ecologist and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream is Chanda’s third creative documentary and her first feature-length film. Living Downstream has won multiple awards, screened publicly over 200 times, and been broadcast on public and commercial television on four continents.

In 2005 and 2006, Chanda and her partner, Nathan Shields, lived in Uganda, producing educational films with Raising Voices, an organization committed to preventing violence against women and children in sub-Saharan Africa. These films are currently in use by thousands of grassroots organizations around the world and have contributed to tangible legislative and social change in the region. Before becoming a director, Chanda was an associate producer and production manager at Primitive Entertainment for five years, where she worked on thirteen productions ranging from television series to theatrical documentaries.

Chanda is passionate about using media for social change and public education. She has authored several educational resources, including a pair of 200-page guides for individuals and groups using Living Downstream and two blogs for the National Film Board of Canada’s CitizenSHIFT website. Chanda has trained as an artist-educator with the Royal Conservatory and as a workshop facilitator with the Alternatives to Violence Project. She has led filmmaking workshops in a variety of settings, ranging from universities to public libraries. She is an instructor in the Business of Film and Television post-graduate program at Centennial College.

Chanda is currently in production on her second feature documentary, an observational documentary about the debate over fracking in New York State. She lives in Toronto with Nathan and their two young children Hannah and Henry. Chanda is a graduate of Sheridan College’s Media Arts Program and a board member of the Documentary Organization of Canada.

Other films by Chanda Chevannes


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