2019 | Imax Documentary | 11 min



This otherworldly large-format short film takes a deep dive into lichen, a species that confounds scientists to this day. Shot in macro 3D, Lichen offers us a look at this remarkable life form and asks what we might learn from it. Ancient and diverse, both an individual and a community, lichens can live in the most extreme environments, including outer space. This meditative film bridges science and philosophy, and the words of lichenologist Trevor Goward illuminate the terrain in poetic and thought-provoking ways.

Lichen was commissioned by Janine Marchessault as part of the XL Outer Worlds exhibition, which premiered at Images Festival in 2019. The program also included films from Michael Snow, Oliver Husain, Leila Sujir, and Kelly Richardson. 


Writer / Director Lisa Jackson
Featuring Trevor Goward
Cinematographer Bob Aschmann
Editor Terra Long
Producers Janine Marchessault, Christian Kroitor

Selected Screenings

Sundance Film Festival
DOXA Film Festival
San Francisco Film Festival
Images Film Festival
InScience Film Festival
Imagine Science Film Festival, Aeon Award Special Mention
Planet in Focus
New Nature Shorts (installation) – Berlin/Montreal, Goethe-Institut & Museum of the Moving Image
Academia Film Olomouc, Honourable Mention


“Jackson’s remarkable Lichen consisted of close-up footage of the composite organisms… the tiniest objects of inquiry here became the most cosmic and otherworldly.”
Canadian Art Magazine

“Placing the species on the pedestal it deserves, Jackson’s short and its indigenous subtext open the door to a philosophical metaphor for environmental change and our (dis)connection to nature.”
POV Magazine

Scientific American, “What Lichens Can Teach Us”

POV Magazine, “DOXA Shorts: Spotlight on Canadian Films”

NOW, “The Most Anticipated Canadian Films and Series at Sundance 2020”

Sloan Science and Film, “Algae and Fungi Meet Film”