Food System Films

The Farm Bill  on You Tube

TEDxManhattan – Ken Cook – Turning the Farm Bill into the Food Bill (TEDxManhattan, April 3, 2011). President of the Environmental Working Group, Ken Cook, discusses the Farm Bill, the massive subsides paid to industrial farmers and how we can all act to help advocate and improve this important legislation.

Farmville Meets The Farm Bill (Jami Miller, Stephanie Wood for IATP, 2010)

Why the Farm Bill Matters to All of  Us Daniel Imhoff presents a one-hour lecture at the Alworth Center for the Study of Peace and Justice, at The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, Minnesota, March 9, 2009.

Apple vs Snack Cake Battle to the Death for the Farm Bill (2007)
Very funny!

Cooking Up A Story: Food News—The Farm Bill- Part 1: An interview with Dan Imhoff (2007)

A Conversation With Dan Imhoff, Part 2: Historical Roots and Current Direction (2007)

A Conversation With Dan Imhoff, Part 3: The System Is Broken (2007)

A Conversation With Dan Imhoff, Part 4: Shifting Winds (2007)
The future of small family farms.

A Conversation With Dan Imhoff, Part 5: Why Is The Farm Bill So Important? (2007)

Reform the 2007 Farm Bill (OXFAM, 2007)
The effect of commodity subsidies world-wide and on American farmers.

Films about Farm Bill topics, food sovereignty, food security, labor, climate change. and more…..

NOTE: Starred films are available on Netflix.

Growing Change, a Journey inside Venezuela’s Food Revolution (2011, Simon Cunich).
Growing Change looks at an exciting experiment to grow a fair and sustainable food system.  In Venezuela, from fishing villages to cacao plantations to urban gardens, a growing social movement is showing what’s possible when communities, not corporations, start to take control of food. Featuring Venezuelan farmers, fishers, and community leaders, plus leading figures in the global food movement.

The Greenhorns (2011)
This documentary film, completed after almost 3 years in production, explores the lives of America’s young farming community – its spirit, practices, and needs. It is the filmmaker’s hope that by broadcasting the stories and voices of these young farmers, we can build the case for those considering a career in agriculture – to embolden them, to entice them, and to recruit them into farming.

Urban Roots (2011)
The documentary film explores the rise of urban agriculture in the communities most affected by the recent economic downturn. The film tells the story of several different urban farms in Detroit, taking an in-depth look at both the gardens themselves, and the people that are responsible for creating and running them.  Filmmaker Mark McInnis, a Detroit native, seeks to spearhead the story of urban agriculture by showing the example of Detroit and similar communities around the country. Eventually, McInnis hopes to continue the movement by creating a how-to guide on starting urban farms that will make urban farming more accessible for all communities.

Farmageddon (2011, Kristin Canty)
Farmageddon highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods safely and free from unreasona-bly burdensome regulations. The film serves to put policymakers and regulators on notice that there is a growing movement of people aware that their freedom to choose the foods they want is in danger, a movement that is taking action with its dollars and its voting power to protect and preserve the dwindling number of family farms that are struggling to survive.

The Big Banana (2011. Franck Hameni)
The region of Njombe-Penja in the coast of Cameroon has a very fertile soil due to high volcanic property. Tropical fruit such as banana, pineapple or mango are widely cultivated for export toward the west, generating millions dollars profit to agro industrial companies. At first glance, a little paradise for the locals soon turns to nightmare. With the new agreement APE (partnership agreement) between the ACP countries (Africa, Pacific, Caribbean) and Europe that allows free trade. Tropical fruit companies (The big Banana) are encouraged to increase their production to meet the western demand. Such an increase requires more land. Unavailable, the big banana begins expropriating farmers with the help of the local government, leaving land owner, and small farmers with nothing to fend for themselves and their families.

King Corn (2007, 90 min) *
In King Corn, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat-and how we farm.

Fresh: The Movie (2010, 72 min)
Less judgmental than many good-for-you filmmakers, Sofia Joanes casts a sympathetic eye on farmers under contract to the giants of agribusiness and acknowledges the challenge of transitioning to more sustainable methods. Neither does she ignore the class barrier to healthy eating, profiling the formidable Will Allen, an urban farmer in Milwaukee who is aggressively combating the paucity of food choices in poor neighborhoods.

The Organic Opportunity: Small Farms & Economic Development (26 min)
Chris Bedford’s film explores Woodbury County Iowa’s pioneering program of (1) economic development tax rebates for farmers who transition to organic, (2) county purchasing that prioritizes local, organic food, and (3) financing for new, small farmers committed to organic agriculture. It is a story of hope and practical steps any community can take to build a thriving local economy.

Harvest of Loneliness: History of the Bracero Program (2010)
Gilberto Gonzalez and Vivian Price’s powerful documentary tells the story of the millions of Mexico’s men and women who experienced the temporary contract worker program known as the Bracero Program. Established to replace an alleged wartime labor shortage, research reveals that the Program intended to undermine farmworker unionization. Harvest shows how several million men, in one of the largest state managed migrations in history, were imported from 1942 to 1964 to work as cheap, controlled and disposable workers. The documentary features the men speaking of their experiences and addresses what to expect from a new temporary contract worker program.

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai (2009)
Follow the link and watch the film!  A profile of Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize recipient from Kenya who founded the Green Belt Movement, an organization devoted to planting trees. It grew into a political force, and promotes the environment, human rights and democracy. “I found myself not just a woman wanting to plant trees to provide food and firewood. I found myself a woman fighting for justice, a woman fighting for equity. I started planting trees and found myself in the forefront of fighting for the restoration of democracy in my country.” —Wangari Maathai

The Garden (2008, 95 min) *
Filmmaker Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s politically charged, Oscar-nominated documentary follows a group of low-income families struggling to protect a 14-acre urban farm in the middle of South Central Los Angeles from bureaucratic real estate developers. A lightning rod for controversy in 2004, this cause célèbre drew the attention of numerous activists and politicians, including Dennis Kucinich, Joan Baez and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigoisa.

Bad Seed: The Truth About Our Food (2005, 112 min)*
Twenty-year-old filmmaker Adam Curry traveled across the United States, Britain and Canada to make this documentary, which explores the statistic that 60 percent of the food Americans eat has been genetically altered or engineered. The jury is out on whether these products could harm the population, and Curry demands answers — talking to nutritionists, physicians, scientists, farmers and other experts in an effort to uncover the truth.

Our Daily Bread (2005, 92 min)
Bypassing the human factor, Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s provocative documentary offers an intensely clinical look at the machinery of industrial food production. Geyrhalter focuses his lens on high-tech aspects of agriculture, using a rich mix of film techniques to capture machines in action. Humans, animals and crops appear incidentally, with droning conveyor belts, automated crop dusters and other machinery in starring roles.

Media That Matters: Good Food (2006) *
A collection of shorts on food and sustainability. Watch and take action for a healthy, sustainable and delicious future. From the importance of asparagus to the marketing of Sunny Delight, 16 short documentaries explore how issues of free trade and sustainability affect the foods we consume and the world we inhabit. Titles include “Asparagus! (A Stalk-umentary),” “Broken Limbs: Searching for the New American Farmer,” “Inch by Inch: Providence Youth Gardens for Change,” “Profit Cola,” “Terminator Tomatoes,” “One More Dead Fish” and “The Meatrix.”

Black Gold (2006, 109 min) *
This sobering documentary exposes the inequities of the coffee business — a $50 billion industry that continues to shortchange Ethiopia’s indigent farmers, inspiring fair-trade crusader Tadesse Meskela to take action. The eye-opening film, which follows the tireless Meskela as he journeys around the globe to initiate change, offers an unrepentant indictment of the World Trade Organization’s unjust and outdated policies.

Blue Gold: World Water Wars (2009, 94 min)*
Narrated by Malcolm McDowell, this award-winning documentary from director Sam Bozzo posits that we’re moving closer to a world in which water — a seemingly plentiful natural resource — could actually incite war. As water becomes an increasingly precious commodity, corrupt governments, corporations and even private investors are scrambling to control it … which leaves everyday citizens fighting for a substance they need to survive.

Silent Killer: The Unfinished Campaign Against Hunger (2005)
John de Graaf’s film highlights promising attempts in Africa, and in South and Central America, to end world hunger.

The World According to Montsanto (2008, 109 min)
The film, a National Film Board of Canada co-production, meticulously details the manipulative deeds of the Monsanto Corporation, one of the world’s biggest agrochemical-biotech companies, on its route to global domination by tracing a trail of evidence, cover-ups and tragedies from the American heartland and beyond.

Dirt! The Movie (2009, 80 min) *
Dirt takes center stage in this entertaining yet poignant documentary from Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow, which unearths our cosmic connection to soil and explores how diverse groups of people are uniting to save the natural resource. Drawing inspiration from William Bryant Logan’s book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, the filmmakers combine lively animations with personal accounts from farmers, scientists, activists and more.

The End of the Line (2009, 90 min) *
Filmmaker Rupert Murray traverses the world exposing the devastating effects that overfishing with modern technology is having on fish stocks and the real solutions to solve the crisis. Combining alarming scientific testimony with under- and above-water footage, Murray creates a hard-to-ignore sketch of the state of the globe’s oceanic ecosystems. This film is based on British environmental journalist Charles Clover’s book.

A Thousand Suns: Food, Ecology and Religion in the 21st Century (27 min)
This film is about one of the world’s last bastions of biological and cultural diversity – the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia. Isolated in the African Rift Valley the area has been densely populated – and sustainable – for 10,000 years. With extraordinary agricultural diversity it is the birthplace of an unprecedented number of varieties of barley, wheat and enset (false banana) and is sustained by a social system whose animist orientation has ensured the survival of 54 tribal groups.

Darwin’s Nightmare (2004, 89 min) *
Only the fittest survive in Hubert Sauper’s moving documentary about hardscrabble life in Tanzania, where the hungry are left to fend for themselves on whatever they can find while their waters are emptied of perch that’s sent to wealthier nations. As the impoverished country teeters on the brink of starvation and devastation, weapons are brought in far more often than food and clothing for the nation’s needy.

Climate Change

When The Water Ends: Africa’s Climate Conflicts (Documentary film, 16 minutes, Yale Environment 360, 2011).
For thousands of years, nomadic herdsmen have roamed the harsh, semi-arid lowlands that stretch across 80 percent of Kenya and 60 percent of Ethiopia. Descendants of the oldest tribal societies in the world, they survive thanks to the animals they raise and the crops they grow, their travels determined by the search for water and grazing lands. These herdsmen have long been accustomed to adapting to a changing environment. But in recent years, they have faced challenges unlike any in living memory: As temperatures in the region have risen and water supplies have dwindled, the pastoralists have had to range more widely in search of suitable water and land. That search has brought tribal groups in Ethiopia and Kenya in increasing conflict, as pastoral communities kill each other over water and grass.

If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise (Spike Lee for HBO, 2010).*
In this follow-up to his Emmy-winning documentary about the effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans, director Spike Lee revisits the still-struggling area five years later to document the progress made — or lack thereof. The current lives of many people from the first film are examined, as are the economic and emotional repercussions of such events as Super Bowl XLIV, the Gulf oil spill and the demolition of four public housing projects.

Films listed below are available through the WA State Labor Center film library, located on the South Seattle Community College Georgetown campus.

Aqui se Puede: Farmworkers in Washington State (1991, 13 min)
Moving Image’s Portrait of the United Farm Workers of Washington State and their long effort to hold a union election at the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery. Produced in cooperation with the Church Council of Greater Seattle, and broadcast on WASHINGTON WORKS (KTPS/Tacoma) and REAL TO REEL (KOMO/Seattle).

Aumento Ya! A Raise Now! (1996, 57 minutes)
This film stands apart from so many other labor movement videos because it puts the viewer in the fields with the workers and shows the growth of a movement of worker/organizers. While the Pineros y Camesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN) uses volunteers and community support, the movement’s base is in the farm workers who become organizers on the job. This is very different from the concept of “selling” the workers on the idea of a union; PCUN understands that the movement lives or dies with the workers and their willingness to act together day by day. It is also a stunning picture of the working and living conditions in the strawberry fields. English narration and subtitles when needed. Distributed by California News Reel,

Dirty Business: Food Exports to the US (1991, 92 min)
Dirty Business starts with the relocation to Mexico of almost 400 food-processing jobs from California by Pillsbury-Green Giant. Many impacts of agribusiness in Mexico, from child labor and harsh living conditions to widespread environmental degradation, are explored in disturbing detail. Migrant Media Productions

Hamlet, NC: Our Jobs, Our Lives? (1991)
This film was made just after a fire at the Hamlet, NC chicken processing plant where 25 workers died. The exit doors had been locked to keep workers from taking chickens. It’s a very “handmade” film; activists interview workers at the plant and family members who’d lost someone in the fire. The film also discusses the institutional racism that resulted in a slow fire department response. You hear Jesse Jackson speaking on the back stoop of a house, filmed with a hand-held video. Rocky Mount, North Carolina Black Workers for Justice

Jungle Burger (1983, 52 min)
Peter Heller’s prize-winning, pioneering documentary that McDonald’s tried to suppress when it came out. By interviewing and filming key personnel involved in all links of the chain, it adds up to a devastating expose of how Central and South American tropical forests are being destroyed to be replaced by cattle production for export to the USA and other industrialized countries. There the beef is mixed in with locally raised beef and put on the market for use by the fast food industry. (In the USA, once any beef consignment has entered the country and passed official inspections it is re-categorized as ‘US beef’). First-Run Icarus International Films

Sueños Binacionales (Bi-National Dreams) (2006, 30 min)
A documentary about the bi-national experience of indigenous Mexican immigrants, “Suenos” tells the stories of the Mixtec people who have been immigrating to California for over 30 years and the more recent stories of Chatinos who have been immigrating to North Carolina for the past 10 years. Yolanda Cruz, Petate Productions

Viva La Causa (2009, 39 min)
Viva La Causa focuses on one of the seminal events in the march for human rights — the grape strike and boycott led by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta in the 1960s. Viva la Causa shows how thousands of people from across the nation joined in a struggle for justice for the most exploited people in our country — the workers who put food on our tables. Southern Poverty Law Center.

Wrath of Grapes (The)
The film chronicles the struggle of Farm workers to organize for safer working conditions since the 1970′s. This is a graphic account of the health effects of massive pesticide use on communities surrounded by industrial farms utilizing unsafe agricultural practices. Cesar Chavez comments throughout the film on the strategy of the UFW. to end these destructive practices, especially in the Central Valley of California. UFW Volunteers.

Northwest Farm Bill Action Group • • 2011
Design based on Missed Spring theme • Rainier image courtesy of USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory