One sure sign of coming spring is Farm Film Fest, to be held at the historic Crandell Theatre in Chatham, NY, on Sunday, March 15, from 1 to 4 p.m. The seventh annual afternoon festival is devoted to films that educate and entertain about farms, farming, farmers, and farming issues. The event is cosponsored by the Chatham Film Club, Chatham Agricultural Partnership, and Columbia Land Conservancy.
Admission is free with a requested donation of a nonperishable food item to the Chatham Silent Food Pantry (cash donations accepted). The festival will be followed by the “Meet Your Maker” reception at Peint O Gwrw 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. This year’s lineup includes a wealth of films about local farmers as well as others with a national perspective.
Local films range from the four-minute film by Cathy Grier entitled “Honey Bee,” about Twin Spruce Apiaries in Coxsackie, NY, to the 26-minute film, “8 Moons Ripe,” which documents one woman’s quest to grow her own food, made by Gretchen Wall and filmed in Columbia County.
In between these two in length are “Pride in the Past; Faith in the Future” about the Trowbridge family with their strong work ethic and commitment to the community on the family’s Angus farm in Ghent, NY. “Happy Sheep: Raising and Shepherding Good Meat at Kinderhook Farm” by filmmaker Liza de Guia of “Food Curated” fame shows how a local farm dedicated to producing great tasting meat also prides itself on the care and concern given to the farm’s animals.
While not strictly local, “Fowl Play” addresses issues familiar to Columbia County regarding the raising of chickens for personal use. The filmmaker is Rob Flaherty, who made the film while a student at Ithaca College.
The “feature film” running at 44 minutes is “Farmland,” an intimate look at the lives of several farmers and ranchers, all in their twenties, and all responsible for running their own agriculture businesses. Director James Moll traveled across the country to capture a first-hand glimpse into the farming way of life passed down from generation to generation while continuing to evolve. Moll’s documentary work has earned him an Academy Award, two Emmys, and a Grammy. His films include “Price for Peace,” “The Last Days,” “Running the Sahara,” and “Inheritance.”
“As a relatively young farmer myself, I feel that Farmland does a good job portraying the many challenges and emotions of young farmers trying to establish a business and a family,” said local dairy farmer Eric Ooms. He is a member of the Chatham Agricultural Partnership and Vice President of the New York State Farm Bureau.
The Chatham Film Club, a 501(c)(3) member-supported nonprofit organization, owns and operates the Crandell Theatre on Chatham’s Main Street and produces the popular FilmColumbia Festival each October. For information on the Chatham Film Club, or to see what’s showing, visit www.crandelltheatre.org.