Farm Film Fest 10, the tenth annual film festival devoted to farms and farming, takes place at the Crandell Theatre in Chatham, NY, on Sunday, March 25, from 1 to 4 p.m. The annual afternoon festival shows films that educate and entertain about farms, farming, farmers, and farming issues both local and national. Admission is free with a cash donation or nonperishable food item for the Chatham Silent Food Pantry.
After a panel discussion and Q & A with local farmers, the festival is followed by a “Meet Your Maker” reception at the People’s Pub, 36 Main Street, with snacks featuring local foods (complementary) and a cash bar. The reception is an opportunity for farmers, filmmakers, and movie goers to mingle.
As in the past, the program is a mix of films made by professional and amateur filmmakers who respond to the call for entries; the films are selected by a panel representing the sponsoring organizations––the Chatham Film Club, Chatham Agricultural Partnership, and Columbia Land Conservancy.
Farm Film Fest 10 starts off with eight very short films about interesting and even unique farming endeavors. “The Art of Farming” by filmmaker Patrick Krum (a high school senior) profiles Keith Freeman, a small-scale farmer in Stockton, NY. “Inner City Goats” by filmmaker Alex Thornburg tells the story of the famous “Belmont goats” that started as a means of sustainable landscaping but became much more to the people in Portland, OR, and beyond.
As shown in “The Guardian: The US Farm That Teaches Yiddish to the World,” an unusual farm in upstate New York, people come from all over the world to learn the historical Jewish language by living and working on the farm, speaking only Yiddish for the duration of their stay. The intention is to connect the participants to the historical and cultural roots of the language. Filmmaker is Eléonore Hamelin.
“Bronx Style Beekeeping with Robert Deschak” by filmmaker Susan Sfarra profiles a beekeeper who works on the rooftop of an uninhabited convent in the Bronx. To protect his legs, Robert Deschak tucks his khakis into vintage brown, army-issue, World War II spats. In New York’s tight-knit beekeeping subculture, Robert stands out as an original.
Jan Billington, a leading light in the world of organic farming, is highlighted in “Edible Flowers: Growing Naturally With the Seasons” by filmmaker Pier Giorgio Proven/GrowEatGather. The only flower farmer in the UK who is organically certified, she meets the challenges of organic farming with innovative solutions and works tirelessly to educate others.
“Queens County Farm” shows the Queens County Farm Museum, which occupies New York City’s largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland. The farm encompasses a 47-acre parcel that is the longest continuously farmed site in New York State. Filmmakers are Matthew Davis Walker and Jeff Siegel.
The short film “Chicken” asks the question, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Filmed in London, it won the DVINFO short film competition in 2013 and was a finalist at the Misty Moon Film Festival the same year. Filmmaker is Henry D. C. Williams.
“How Does It Grow? Apples” profiles the Lyman family, who have been operating orchards since 1741. Locally, their apples are grown at Harvest Farm, Love Apple Farm, Fix Bros. Fruit Farm, and Samascott Orchards. Filmmakers are Nicole Coltroneo Jolly and Mark Jolly.
A longer film (15 minutes) shows one day in the life of an experienced horse logger who does the work of a farm all year round using only horse power. Fully self-sufficient, he has been living off the grid before there even was a grid. “Grandfather. Part I. Winter – Horse Logging” is the first in a series of films about the same subject by Jacob of the Northmen Guild, based in Latvia.
Narrated by actor Mike Rowe, the feature film “Farmers For America” traces the extraordinary changes coming to America’s food system as more and more consumers flock to farmers’ markets, embrace farm-to-table lifestyles, and insist on knowing where their food is coming from. Filmmaker is Graham Meriwether.
A panel discussion with filmmakers and farmers follows the screening. Panelists include Brian Chittenden (Dutch Hollow Farm, Stuyvesant); Claudia Kenny (Little Seed Gardens, Chatham); and Patrick Knapp (Back Paddock Farm, Austerlitz). Moderator is Peter Paden, executive director, Columbia Land Conservancy.
The Chatham Film Club, a 501(c)(3) member-supported nonprofit organization, owns and operates the Crandell Theatre, 48 Main Street, Chatham, and produces the popular FilmColumbia Festival each October. For more information on Farm Film Fest, visit http://chathamkeepfarming.org/FarmFilmFest.html.