Farm Film Fest 11, the eleventh film festival devoted to farms and farming, takes place at the Crandell Theatre in Chatham, NY, on Sunday, March 24, from 12:30 to 4 p.m. The afternoon festival shows films that educate and entertain about farms, farming, farmers, and farming issues both local and national. Admission is free, but cash donations are welcome; a nonperishable food item for the Chatham Silent Food Pantry is also accepted. The theme this year is “Food, Glorious Food.”
After a post-film discussion, the festival is followed by a “Meet Your Maker” reception at the People’s Pub, 36 Main Street, with snacks featuring local foods (complimentary) and a cash bar. The reception is an opportunity for farmers, filmmakers, and movie goers to mingle.
As in the past, the program is a mix of films made by professional and amateur filmmakers who respond to the call for entries; the films were selected by representatives of the sponsoring organizations––the Crandell Theatre, Chatham Agricultural Partnership, and Columbia Land Conservancy.
A one-minute film titled Food, Glorious Food by filmmaker Richard Jung launches the theme of Farm Film Fest 11. Focusing on food locally are two short films from WMHT’s The Local Feed series: one from The Chatham Berry Farm on Blueberries, and one from Love Apple Farm on peaches. A third locally shot film involves fifth grade Bronx students planting and harvesting squash at Schoharie Valley Farms.
Several films reveal “roots” in several senses of the word. A Farmer Discovers Her Roots, One Veggie at a Time profiles a woman who was adopted as an infant from Korea and raised in the U.S. Fascinated by her birth country’s cuisine, she practices “natural farming” techniques in California and provides produce to Bay Area restaurant Namu Gaji. In Covering Your Ass: Meet Brazil’s Beekeeping Donkey, a donkey helps Manuel Juraci Vieir transport the honey he collects from his beehives on his farm back to his home. Another “roots” film, A Visit to Abe’s Acres, shows Gabriel Siciliano practicing sustainable agriculture on the farm established by his great-grandfather in 1933 in New Jersey.
From the perspective of social benefits, “Bog Turtle” tells the story of how some dairy farmers are benefiting financially from stewarding their land for North America’s smallest turtle. Interviews and intimate Bog Turtle field footage provide insight into the uniqueness of this species and its habitat. “An Oasis in the Midst of a Food Desert” shows a town in North Carolina that without access to affordable food and produce is considered a food desert. A minister, Reverend Richard Joyner, begins a local farm to provide residents with fresh fruit and vegetables at an affordable price.
Hemp in New York: How Marijuana’s Controversial Cousin Could Benefit Farmers shows how the stigma around the world’s “most useful plant” has started to change, and efforts to decriminalize industrial hemp growing are increasing. Nut Milking Exposed is a spoof on the idea of “milk” being a product of nuts, not cows. Underlying the fun is the point that there are issues around what can be called “milk.”
The festival’s feature film Food Evolution examines the large issues of food security, sustainability, and environmental well-being in light of the emotionally charged controversy over genetically-modified foods (GMOs). Filmmaker is Scott Hamilton Kennedy, and narrator is Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.
A post-film discussion is moderated by botanist Daniel Franck, Ph.D., Director of Science Curriculum at the Core Knowledge Foundation. Participants include Eric Ooms from A. Ooms and Sons Dairy Farm, Vice-President, New York State Farm Bureau, founding member of the Chatham Agricultural Partnership; Peter Paden, Executive Director, Columbia Land Conservancy; and Will Yandik from Green Acres Farm, Director of Philanthropy, National Young Farmers Coalition, and Vice-President, Columbia County Farm Bureau.
The Crandell Theatre is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit, member-supported organization that operates and maintains the historic movie house at 48 Main Street in Chatham, NY. For more information on Farm Film Fest, visit the website. Farm Film Fest is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.