The Telegraph reports on “The Moo Man”, a new documentary making its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, which looks at the life and experiences of a British farm family turning their back on Big Dairy and converting their farm to raw milk production:
A farmer who led his cows on a long walk to freedom is the subject of an award-nominated film
Hollywood’s latest starlet is gazing enigmatically into the camera lens with her huge melting brown eyes, framed with lashes long enough to catch snowflakes. She radiates an air of serenity amid the flashbulbs and satellite dishes and is the very epitome of poise – until an enormous rough pink tongue emerges from the side of her mouth and flicks into her nostril.
“This is Ration, she’s our Red Carpet Cow,” says her owner, East Sussex dairy farmer Steve Hook, as he massages her neck. “A handful of cow nuts and you can do anything you like with her.”
That pretty much makes her every director’s dream, but she won’t be accompanying him to Sundance Film Festival this weekend, where her screen debut – The Moo Man – has been chosen to compete in the prestigious World Cinema category.
The Moo Man is ostensibly a documentary about Longleys Farm, Hailsham, where Steve and his father, Phil, have turned around their loss-making dairy business by thumbing their noses at the supermarket big boys and marketing and selling their own raw, unpasteurised and organic milk.
But this fascinating, unsentimental yet tender film is much more than a classic David-and-Goliath clash of values; it is a moving portrait of the ancient relationship between a farmer and his animals, set against a backdrop of changing seasons, changing fortunes, birth, death and, of course, milk. Gallons and gallons of the white stuff.
In a few days, Steve Hook and his father will be at Sundance, where their quietly profound story will vie for attention among performances by Hollywood A-listers such as Ashton Kutcher and Scarlett Johansson.
The farmers have been invited to brunch with festival founder Robert Redford. It’s a fair bet they will raise a toast to The Moo Man. Let’s hope it is with a glass of raw, unpasteurised milk.
(Photo ©2013 Sundance.org)
This Saturday, the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria will be screening “The First Season” (check out my previous post about it, including the Trailer), a new documentary produced and directed by Rudd Simmons — better known for Producer titles on Boardwalk Empire, multiple Wes Anderson Films, The Road, and much more. Simmons was friends with the family before shooting began, and spent five years following them and assembling materials before filming began:
SCREENING & LIVE EVENT
The First Season with director Rudd Simmons in person
Part of Rural Route Film Festival
Saturday, August 4, 5:00 p.m.
Dir. Rudd Simmons. 2012, 83 mins. Digital. United States. New York Premiere. Paul and Phyllis van Amburgh, embracing the traditional values essential to life on a small farm (honest toil, thrift, and dedication to family), take their life savings and buy a defunct dairy. With three children, plus a fourth on the way, and armed only with their principles and determination, they fight to defy the odds and become full-time farmers. Simmons (producer of The Royal Tenenbaums) makes his directorial debut with this documentary, as he took to the country to follow the couple through their first year.
Preceded by Old Lady (Dir. Robert Gardner, 1958, 4 mins.), about a woman in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia and Headwaters: Phebel and Flora (Prod. Headwaters Television/Appalshop. 1982, 6mins.), rare community television footage of local bluegrass musicians at home.
More info and tickets here.
Bedford Cheese Shop announces a new monthly “Food and Film” series, bringing together a film screening with a spread of cheeses, meats, beer and more for your enjoyment. First movie, documentary (trailer above) The Greenhorns:
Our monthly Food and Film series is starting here at The Homestead. We’ll gather on a Friday evening, watch a film supporting young farmers, eat a spread of local cheese, produce, and beer, AND discuss the future of the global food movement.
On Friday, August 17th at 8pm, we’ll kick it off with a viewing of The Greenhorns Film Project.
Tasting menu includes 6 cheeses, 2 cured meats, fresh greens, and 2 beers.
To buy tickets and get more info: http://blog.bedfordcheeseshop.com/event/food-and-film-the-greenhorns-film-project/
I love this idea! Cheese and Cinema, two of my favorite things brought together.
It’s starting to feel like a video tumblr around here what with all the video links lately, but here’s another: the trailer for dairy documentary “The First Season”, which follows a family as they go through the trials and tribulations of starting a small family dairy farm in upstate NY.
Produced and directed by Rudd Simmons — better known for Producer titles on Boardwalk Empire, multiple Wes Anderson Films, The Road, and much more — Simmons was friends with the family before shooting began, and spent five years following them and assembling materials before filming began:
I’ve known Paul and Phyllis Van Amburgh for a long time and when I heard that they were buying a farm, I thought it would make an interesting film. Paul and Phyllis are both extraordinary people and what they were attempting to do had a built-in conflict. The structure was also there, one year divided by the seasons which would become visual markers for the various acts in the story.
How long did it take you to make your film? Five years. I lived with the farm family and filmed for the first 6 months of their starting the dairy. Then, over the course of the next 3 years, I did follow-up visits, shooting additional material, landscapes and interviews. When I felt that there was nothing else to shoot, we started post-production which took another year to complete.
You can read the full interview with Simmons at AllAboutIndieFilmmaking.com in which he discusses the process of making the film.
The trailer is available at the site for the Slamdance Film Festival (the satellite film festival for Sundance):
Paul and Phyllis van Amburg, believing that a small, family farm is the best place to raise their children, take their life savings and buy a defunct dairy. With three children and a fourth on the way, and armed only with their principles and determination, they fight to defy the odds as they become full time farmers. THE FIRST SEASON, through an intimate, cinema verite style, bears witness to the Van Amburg’s struggle as they fight against relentless toil, financial ruin and the harsh reality of diary farming to achieve their version of the American dream.
From the legendary cheesemongers Neal’s Yard Dairy in Covent Garden, this is “A Neal’s Yard Dairy Film”, looking at the cheesemaking process from sheep (and goat and cow) to shelf, with a nice mix of footage (not sure how much of it is found and how much shot for this film) from all points in the life cycle of a wheel of cheese. Neal’s Yard is one of those life list cheesemongers that I intend to visit at some point, famous not just for their excellent selection of British Isle cheeses but for their skills as Affineurs as well (affinage-related controversies notwithstanding…)