We may only have a limited amount of time to prevent a global climate crisis. As climate change and ecological degradation pose a significant threat to traditional farming practices, an increasing number of farmers are turning towards a more resourceful and sustainable method for the future.
And in recent years, an increasing number of documentary filmmakers are getting their hands dirty by exploring the ‘revolutionary’ approach of regenerative farming, a holistic method that promotes ecological restoration, biodiversity and self-sufficiency.
Pamela Tanner Boll, Damon Gameau, Pam Chester and now Rachel Ward are just some of the recent wave of documentary filmmakers that are exploring a regenerative solution through their films To Which We Belong, 2040, The Biggest Little Farm and Rachel’s Farm respectively.
These documentaries operate as inspiring testimonials that are used to convince viewers of the positive impacts that these practices have on the environment and for the future of farming. Much of these films’ screen-time is dedicated to sequences showing the before-and-after results of these farming methods. What’s more convincing than seeing the change documented right on-camera, right?
With these films, it is vital to establish strong lead hosts/characters. Focusing on relatable and likeable Rachel Ward is a way to effectively make it easier to understand and personalise their experiences to the viewer. Many may not be well-attuned or knowledgeable of these new solutions, so it only makes sense to get behind characters that breathe charisma on camera.
These farmer/filmmakers are here to share their deep passion for the land and its resources, proving that you can take matters into your own hands instead of relying on conventional farming practices, which contribute to soil degradation, water depletion and the loss of biodiversity. Even through all the trials and tribulations that the farmers encounter on their quest provide dramatic stakes, they must adapt and innovate to their respective situations.
The obvious difference between these documentaries is just how they present their messages. For example, Rachel’s Farm comes off as a much smaller story, where it’s Rachel saving her own farm compared to Damon Gameau’s grander aim in 2040 of travelling around the world to find a solution to a brighter future for his four-year old daughter Velvet. Both personal stories, granted, but they have very different aims when looking at the impact of regenerative farming.
This embrace of regenerative farming documentaries represents a movement that is challenging the status quo and asks viewers to re-evaluate their relationship with the land and the food that they consume – another recent documentary that brought food production into focus is Greenhouse by Joost. These films are made to bring about positive change and be a contribution to solving the climate crisis that will impact future generations. Whether you think a film like Rachel’s Farm does this effectively comes down to personal preference or understanding of the situation, but it’s certainly a sign of a growing trend that is pushing towards new, innovative means to create a brighter, greener future.