“Ninety-five percent of what Americans eat, you can’t pronounce and you can’t make it in your kitchen,” observes Joel Salatin. The owner of Polyface Farms, Salatin repeats in Farmageddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms what he’s said elsewhere—in his books and in the movies Fresh and Food, Inc.—namely, that the US government’s efforts to regulate small farmers’ food production are not just misbegotten, but also dangerous. With Farmageddon, first time filmmaker Kristin Canty brings more evidence to bear, in the stories of farmers who have been harassed by federal and local agencies (the FBI, the USDA, and the FDA, as well as assorted sheriffs’ departments). Linked through their handling by the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s D. Gary Cox, these cases include unannounced raids, inspections that turn into seizures, sheep killing, and, in the case of Jackie Stowers (owner of a private food co-op), the armed invasion of the farmhouse she shares with 10 kids and her husband.
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“It started with the Army of Guardians patrolling the streets,” says Mitra Khalatbari, “constantly restricting, humiliating, and beating young people.” As she remembers the beginnings of resistance in her home country, the Iranian journalist is at once proud and sad. For as her memories bring her back to the elections of 2009 and the cruel oppressions that followed, Khalatbari, like other interviewees in The Green Wave, is stunned by the betrayal and brutality of her government, the government that not so many years ago was born of resistance to another inhumane regime. Ali Samadi Ahadi’s remarkable documentary underscores the horrific irony that the current Islamic Republic was born, in 1979, in response to the Shah’s abuses, and also makes clear the many contexts of the crisis, the history that made it possible and the lack of international that has allowed the crisis to persist. The first film of at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in DC, The Green Wave screens on 18 April, followed by a Q&A with Faraz Sanei, of Human Rights Watch Middle East.
See PopMatters’ review.
“In 1997, I was fixing a plate of food in the kitchen,” says Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger, “Getting ready for the evening news.” What he heard on the TV changed everything: a scientific report linked birth defects and childhood cancers to water contamination at Camp Lejeune, where he and his family had lived. “I dropped my plate, right there. I mean, it was like God was saying to me, ‘Here is a glimmer of hope, that you will find your answer.’” Ensminger’s question concerned the death of his nine-year-old daughter, Janey, some 14 years earlier. She’d had leukemia, and throughout her illness and after her passing, he wondered why.
“It was important to us to have a very clear understanding of what the audience’s experience would be,” Grover Babcock tells Filmmaker Magazine. “We wanted to play with the energy that the audience would be investing in the story in terms of where the tension was, what their suppositions were, and where they thought they were headed.” Just so, the documentary he co-directed with Blue Hadeigh, Scenes of a Crime leads viewers through a complex and increasingly distressing investigation, less of an original crime—here, the death of an infant—and more of the many “crimes” that follow, as the child’s father Adrian Thomas is put through a barrage of interrogations that lead detectives to believe in his guilt.
“The Maldives is just 1.5 meters above sea level. It’s not something in the future, it’s something we are facing right now.” As presented by Mohamed Nasheed, then the president of Maldives, that “it” would be the catastrophic effects of climate change. His island will soon be under water. Even beyond his tiny nation’s own fate, the former political prisoner sees this as a global issue, and has made it his mission to make it visible to the rest of the world. Jon Shenk’s The Island President is part of that effort.