Director Jody Shapiro (How to Start Your Own Country) ventures into the backwoods of Maine to find the reclusive Burt Shavitz, founder and (bearded) face of the all-natural personal care brand Burt’s Bees, in this wry, thoughtful and intimate portrait of a highly idiosyncratic pioneer.

TIFF Docs

Burt's Buzz

Jody Shapiro

Following his cheeky documentary How to Start Your Own Country, director Jody Shapiro returns to the Festival with Burt's Buzz, a vibrant and incisive portrait of Burt Shavitz. Famous for its all-natural personal care items, Burt's Bees has become a household name in many parts of the world. The company built a mighty reputation as a producer of eco-friendly products made from simple ingredients, and in the process it has become a billion-dollar business. But less well-known is the eccentric man behind the brand, whose bearded face still graces many of its labels.

In Burt's Buzz, Shapiro takes us into the reclusive backwoods world of beekeeper Shavitz, still committed to living off the land in Maine, as he has since the 1970s, in a renovated turkey coop with no running water. Shapiro explores Shavitz's peculiar relationship with the company he co-founded with Roxanne Quimby. The birth of Burt's Bees and its emergence as a lucrative brand may be the stuff of legend, but it's also contentious: Shavitz sold his shares decades ago, reaping virtually nothing from the company's financial success; yet he remains contracted to promote the brand, travelling the world making public appearances. Wise and wry, absent-minded and unflappable, Shavitz is a fascinating subject.

With a steadfast, subtle hand, Shapiro exposes the contrasts and ironies that pepper Shavitz's life — including the collision between business and personal values — and delicately mines the humour and emotion of his story. The result is a thoughtfully layered portrait of this highly idiosyncratic pioneer, and a revealing study of what it means to be a living icon.

AGATA SMOLUCH DEL SORBO

Screenings

Fri Sep 06

Scotiabank 8

Industry
9:30am
Sun Sep 08

Isabel Bader Theatre

Regular
3:45pm
Mon Sep 09

The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Regular
9:00am
Wed Sep 11

Scotiabank 14

Industry
4:30pm
Fri Sep 13

The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Regular
12:00pm