Food for Thoughts: Two Documentaries on the World Food Crisis

Growing Cities Growing Cities

Looking for ideas on how to commemorate the World Food Day on October 16th? Why not spend some time watching engaged documentaries on the food crisis and backyard farmers? For the occasion are two suggestions by the team at First Run Features who present two new documentaries on the subject: Every Three Seconds & Growing Cities.

Every Three Seconds

Directed by Daniel Karslake, this first suggestion offers a touching portrait of five people who against a selfish society declare war on hunger. From their own community to villages in Africa, we witness the illuminations of everyday people rising up and trying to make a difference. Interlaced together, the portraits demonstrate that simple ideas, powered by simple yet determined human beings, can go a long way. From farm gleaning to web building, those stories share one thing: the will to fight hunger, poverty and disease among the poor.

Was the message bright and valiant, stimulating and inspiring? I could not say. As strong as those everyday persons are, each portrait is so lengthy and filled with so much unnecessary information it’s uneasy, even impossible to stay the boredom. What should have been a 30-minute inspiration injection quickly turned out to be a challenge for your humble writer. Some (if not half) of the interventions are useless and seem questionably inserted for the sake of adding length to Karslake’s piece of work. To add, the treatment is utterly conventional and lacks imagination. The final result is a missed attempt to inspire and pay homage, a real tough ride for travelers unaccustomed to the dull landscape of lifeless documentary filmmaking.

Backyard Brewing

Growing Cities, Dan Susman’s first attempt at full-feature filmmaking is a documentary on backyard farmers, vacant lot vegetables invaders and rooftop gardeners. Cruising the USA, Susman and schoolmate Andrew Monbouquette visit and experiment with different types of metropolitan agriculture and community self-sustaining food techniques. Along the trip, we meet different and colorful personas, working on building a greener and healthier America.

This second suggestion is by far more worthwhile. Dan Susman’s Growing Cities in some ways achieves the opposite of the previous title. Although obviously a beginner’s work, Growing Cities is nevertheless pretty entertaining. Even more, fresh food lovers should find this documentary on urban farming activities in the US not only compelling, but in some ways, inspiring and definitely positive. The young and candid approach the filmmakers demonstrate throughout the film is contagious and easily overcomes the ‘documentary textbook’ format. Through interviews, fascinating visits and pretty decent camera work, Susman builds a solid testimony on the plausibility of urban farmer and self sustenance.

So if you are looking for a way to celebrate the World Food Day, find inspiration or simply be greener, you might want to get yourself a copy of Growing Cities. It’s entertaining, interesting and worth watching! On the other hand, if you are experiencing insomnia, you might want to try out Every Three Seconds ;^)

Both films hit the street on October 16 for World Food Day.