Saturday, March 8: 9:30: BURT’S BUZZ Director: Jody Shapiro
Canada, 2013 English 88 minutes Documentary With: Burt Shavitz
Following his cheeky documentary How to Start Your Own Country, director Jody Shapiro returns 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.