Canadian artist Rita Leistner uses photography and film to create portraits of communities in extreme conditions—such as soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, female patients at psychiatric hospitals in wartime, women wrestlers in the United States, and loggers and tree planters in Canada—exploring themes of purpose, struggle, and belonging. Each unique world shapes her conceptual approaches and aesthetic styles, resulting in distinctive, large bodies of work that merge art and documentary and often consist of books or films in addition to photographs for installation and exhibition. She typically invests months or years in a project. From 2016 to 2019 she lived with and documented a community of tree planters in British Columbia, Canada. The resulting work consists of an award-winning feature documentary film “Forest for the Trees”, a 256-page photography book, and large-scale fine art photographs, “The Tree Planters” and “Enchanted Forests”. Rita’s stories and photographs have been published in hundreds of outlets worldwide, exhibited in ten countries and are in major art collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian War Museum and the TD Bank Art Collection. She has written about photography, art, and war for publications such as the Routledge Companion to Visual Culture, The Literary Review of Canada, GEO France and The Walrus. She has published four books of photography including Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq (2005), widely considered one of the most influential anti-war books to come out of the Iraq conflict. From 2010-16 she was Associate Professor of the History of Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the University of Toronto. She has been captured by insurgents, assaulted, and shot at; and has run into gunfire to get a photograph. She has also written about her experiences with alcoholism and addiction and getting sober in 2007. During the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, Rita continued her explorations of community, struggle and belonging in two photography series about the human desire for connection in the face of strict pandemic rules such as stay-at-home orders and social distancing: The darkly poetic night journey “Infinite Distance” made with actor/filmmaker Don McKellar; and “Some of the Parts”, an uncannily emotional series of socially distanced portraits of the artist with friends and family in Toronto, Canada. She is represented by the Stephen Bulger Gallery for art, and by Green Planet Films for film.