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MARCH 23, 2009   

First film of the Festival

I feel like a real cultural slacker, seeing as today is the fifth day of the Cleveland International Film Festival and I just saw my first film tonight. Most of the friends who I've talked with are on number three, four or five. Except for Robert, who's up to around 60! Starting tomorrow I'll be introducing films for high school students as part of the Film Slam, so will probably watch two or more a day between now and the weekend.

People pushing farm wagonTonight's film was Poly Cultures: Food Where We LIve. Much of it was filmed nearby and showed neighborhood gardens, CityFresh produce distribution centers, and local food activists who I have at least a passing acquaintance with.

The film is an encouraging overview of a variety of grassroots efforts to develop and promote growing and eating local foods. Along with a couple friends and neighbors, even my favorite food guru, MIchael Pollan, appears in it a few times.

This was a film I expected to enjoy but found a bit tiresome due to somewhat unclear editing and fairly low production values. Watching movies shot on video, with their highly variable color and blown-out highlights make me appreciate the beauty of film. I can appreciate how video allows so many more people to tell their stories, but it also demonstrates the sacrifice in quality that often comes with it. And while the video left something to be desired, the sound was awful. Much of it was recorded outdoors, and apparently the filmmakers never heard of using a windscreen on their mics. Nearly all of the outdoor dialog was accompanied by rustling and roaring wind sounds.

Still the message—grow and eat local food—came through with heart and some humor. Cleveland looked appropriately gritty and urban much of the time, but filled with vibrant and energetic people creating cooperative gardens everywhere.

The showing was sponsored by the ecological superstar Great Lakes Brewing, whose efforts at supporting local food figure prominently in the story. All in all a feel-good movie that made me want to go home and work in the garden myself.

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2009 MARCH