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This can be a tough time of year—but it’s one I always look forward to. Yes, it’s chilly where I live. I can’t look out the window and see a vibrant garden.
But it’s also a time of optimism, where we look to the year ahead and think about what we want to do, who we want to be, and what we want to achieve. In short, it’s a time of year where we’re sustained by the hope of a better future!
That’s why I always look forward to January, because we head to Utah during the Sundance Film Festival to showcase powerful storytelling, through film, of the people who are making meaningful food system progress.
Sharing stories has been core to Food Tank’s mission since the beginning. And I’ve always appreciated film as one of the most accessible—and visually striking—ways to connect people on the ground of food system change with viewers and advocates at home.
It’s one thing to tell someone about the unexpected partnerships and bold, resilient strategies that people around the globe are using to protect the planet. But it’s infinitely more powerful to show them Wild Hope, a new series of short films that takes viewers directly to the sites of local action, from New York City to Mozambique.
By discussing the hunger crisis on college campuses, we can raise awareness. But by gathering together to watch Abundance, we can be inspired by a real-world example of college students dropping everything to feed local families—and we can learn how we can emulate that direct action in our own communities.
I can talk all day about the power of regenerative agriculture. And trust me, I often do! But in the film Common Ground, celebrities including Laura Dern, Rosario Dawson, Jason Mamoa, Woody Harrelson, Ian Somerhalder, and Donald Glover all use their platforms to elevate the importance of soil health and the forward-thinking farmers fighting to preserve it.
And all of these films—plus the documentary project Susan Feniger. FORKED, which follows a chef as she strives to open her first solo restaurant, and Feeding Tomorrow, by celebrity chefs and filmmakers Simon English and Oliver English—will be screened at our Food Systems and the Environment Summit, which we’re presenting during Sundance alongside 360 Communications.
“You have to find a way to balance information and stories that move people,” says Melissa Robledo, one of the filmmakers of “Food Inc., 2.” “It’s a constant back-and-forth.”
Here are some other films you should add to your ‘to watch’ list:
Organic Rising, the first feature-length film that aims to demystify how organic agriculture actually works.
The Smell of Money, a film that follows the fight for justice among those living near factory hog farms in eastern North Carolina.
Food Inc., 2, the sequel to the award-winning 2008 documentary, which takes a fresh look at how our food system has become more corporatized and vulnerable in recent years.
The Grab, a work of film-length investigative reporting that uncovers the forces trying to seize control of vital resources like land and water.
Holy Shit Film, an examination of the very real problems—and possibilities—that come with treating wastewater, feces, and the contents of our sewers
Making Waves, a short film from Driscoll’s about how farmers in California are adapting to the climate crisis and recharging aquifers.
Farming While Black, a film about young Black farmers based on the important book of the same name, by farmer and activist Leah Penniman.
What I love about these film projects is that they’re more than movies—they can turn into movements. The Common Ground film, for example, has launched a campaign to regenerate 100 million acres of land in the United States, and “Abundance” offers fellowships and fundraising campaign support for future changemakers.
“People take action when they see there can be results and impact,” says Geoff Luck, Executive Producer and Director of Impact for the Wild Hope Initiative. “We know the way to change behavior most effectively is through narrative storytelling.”
“So let’s tell some stories about the kinds of ways we can make change, and get them out to a broad and wide audience,” he told me at SXSW last year.
Our film screening programming during Sundance in Utah, taking place Saturday, January 20th, is sold out. Although, as always, Food Tank members get in free, even to sold-out events. Here’s the link, and email Kenzie@FoodTank.com for a member code.
But that’s another amazing reason to celebrate film: You can be part of the conversation wherever in the world you are!
Once you have had a chance to view these films, let’s talk about them! Share your thoughts on social media using #FoodTank, and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to being able to share stories with one another!
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Photo courtesy of San Knight, Unsplash