Amid a snow-covered Nordic landscape, a portal on the side of a frosty mountain leads to a long, dark tunnel and then a frozen door. Behind that door: the history of agriculture — of cultivation, selection and environmental symbioses — as told by more than 880,000 seeds. This is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the largest collection of seeds in the world and a safeguard against loss of diversity, insurance that human agriculture can adapt and continue to feed the world. This film follows world-renowned scientist Cary Fowler as he delves into the state of agriculture, co-evolution, extinction and the future of our food supply.
We’ve all heard of Flint, Michigan. Stricken by poverty, crime and tainted water, Flint has made headlines across the globe. For Flint, a short film by Brian Schulz, is making a new headline. Meet Valorie Horton, a potter introducing art to a youth culture otherwise devoid of such craft; Ryan Gregory, an artist who makes awesomely bizarre musical instruments and “fish bikes” out of discarded material; and Leon El-Alamin, a former criminal now teaching at-risk youth how to avoid the perilous path he once tread. These three, and others like them, are telling a new story of Flint, one of redemption and regeneration.
In New Brunswick, Canada, a multicultural community comprised of members of Mi’kmaq Elsipogtog First Nation, French-speaking Acadians and white English-speaking families banded together behind a common cause: to prevent SWN, a Texas-based natural gas company, from laying claim to their backyard. Together, they set up road blockades, protests and a small, yet potent, resistance. Water Warriors tells the story of a community resolute in the protection of their lands.
Canadian journalist, media personality and documentarian Avi Lewis, along with his wife, author Naomi Klein, has advocated for radically new social and political structures as the only possible effective response to climate change. In Keepers of the Future, he profiles a community organization that demonstrates how “deep local democracy” can help even a poor population build environmental, economic and political resilience. Recovering from the devastation of the Salvadoran Civil War, the Lower Lempa coordinadora, a farmers’ cooperative, has restored degraded ecosystems, diversified small-scale agriculture to build local self-sufficiency, and fostered political resistance against national initiatives to “develop” the region by establishing a wage-based economy of tourism and large-scale sugar and cotton farming. Can this model succeed? Can it be replicated?
Will Harris is not a typical back-to-the-earth organic farming advocate: He’s a hard-bitten, fourth-generation, good ol’ boy, commodity cowboy who raised cattle in strictest post WWII industrial fashion. Addicted to ammonium nitrate fertilizer, hormones and antibiotics, Harris squeezed every penny out of every cow pound. Until he didn’t. In 1995, Harris began to change how he farmed. He began to pay more attention to the microbes in his soil than to his chemically sponsored beef yields. In the process, he went from liking what he was doing “every year a little bit less” to feeling good about everything his transformed farm had to show him — including things he never expected to see.