Farmer John: Smelling the Onions
Opening today in Manhattan at the Quad Cinema and Lincoln Plaza is The Real Dirt on Farmer John
, a documentary about John Peterson
, whose battles to farm his way, and to be the person he wanted to be, roiled his corner of Illinois and led him on a personal odyssey of isolation, virtual bankruptcy, and finally redemption as he turned his farm into a CSA-based organic/biodynamic entity
that is currently thriving.
It's a fascinating documentary, not least because every aspect (it seems) of Farmer John's life is captured on film, either on his indomitable mother's home movie-camera that shows an idyllic-but-not-untroubled farm life in the 1950s, through to the movies made by John and his hippie friends in the 1960s, to the four different movies made by the current filmmaker, Taggart Siegel
, that date from the late 1970s to the present. It's an extraordinary gift for a filmmaker, and Mr. Siegel makes the most of it.
Anyway, anyone concerned with farming, rural life, finding one's way in this world, and supporting independent documentaries should go and see it, RiGHT NOW, because unless you do, then it won't be rolled out across the nation and get wider distribution. It's the same with music and books: if you don't support them, then they're not going to be taken up by people who aren't as wise and interested as you!