In the contemporary world of media, I believe we should have a very broad sense of what falls under the term “art.” I may be biased as an English major, but I hold that literature and film, even documentaries (at least the good stuff) are definitely art, or at least artful in their storytelling. Well, since I’ve been in the California Bay Area, I’ve been stopping by SF Indie’s Documentary Festival, which features a surprising and encouraging amount of environmentally-concerned documentaries this year. This post features the two that I went and saw.
Fall and Winter (directed by Matt Anderson, produced by Taylor Feltner)
Fall and Winter was the perfect documentary to start off my experience at the SF DocFest. The film provided an overview of everything the general public needs to know about the global environmental movement, and it encapsulated almost everything I had learned about environmental theory in my college studies, from the inherent contradiction of capitalism and environmentalism to sustainable ecological development via permaculture. Filmmaker Matt Sauder interviewed a whole crew of important figures in environmental, political, economic and social thought, in addition to the fishers affected by the BP oil spill and ecologists hoping to establish a new – or, rather, a return to a more sustainable – form of agriculture (find a full list of the cast here).
The film touches on our Western cultural obsession with domineering and controlling nature, which carries over to the industry of the American food supply. It provides a disturbing, real look into the source of our environmental troubles, then segues into a hopeful outline of solutions for the future (including eco-architecture using local materials and sustainable farming methods). The film achieves this all with excellent cinematography by David Black and Paul Park, and I’d highly recommend it as an introduction to environmentalist thought. See the trailer below.
Speaking of sustainable farming, Edible City is a more focused envirodoc highlighting the urban agriculture methods and efforts of several Bay Area farms. It was a refreshing and interesting close look at the good food movement as an environmental, political, and socioeconomic issue, as many of the farms arose as either a community solution to the food deserts surrounding many lower-class neighborhoods or as a protest to unsustainable land use (such as the development of the Gill Tract in Albany, CA). Edible City is a hopeful, rousing push for the universal right to good food. It’s realistic in its ideals, and not only highlights the tangible outcomes of the Occupy movement, but also comes upon the realization that scaling urban agriculture necessitates political change via more mainstream methods like voting and lobbying.
It does well not to alienate anyone, pushing aside any perception of the good food movement as esoteric, if not entirely counter-cultural. It just makes sense for a lot of people; included in the film are Hope Collaborative and the Oakland Food Connection, both serving and integrating Oakland communities. One of the scenes in the film show Hank Herrera (of Dig Deep Farm) asking a group of community members, “Who wants access to healthy, fresh, cheap food?” to which every single group member raised their hand. The want, and need, for good food is there; we simply have to provide it. Watch the trailer below, or the film in its entirety here.