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The Real Dirt on Farmer John (2005)

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The epic tale of a maverick Midwestern farmer. An outcast in his community, Farmer John bravely stands amidst a failing economy, vicious rumors, and violence. By melding the traditions of family farming with the power of art and free expression, this powerful story of transformation and renewal heralds a resurrection of farming in America.

The film is a haunting odyssey, capturing what it means to be different in rural America.

 

Director Taggart Siegel Collective Eye made the film in a most unusual way – shooting farmer John Peterson over 25-years of their evolving friendship, and using multiple media, from 8 mm home movies shot on the farm in the 50’s and 60’s to modern video -- allowing him to capture his alternately humorous, heartbreaking and spirited life with raw drama and intimacy.

With the death of his father during the late 60s, a teenaged John takes over the traditional family farm, slowly turning it into an experiment of art and agriculture, making it a haven for hippies, radicals and artists. The Real Dirt on Farmer John charts the end of this idealistic era as the farm debt crisis of the 80’s brings about the tragic collapse of the farm.

As the intricate weave of rural America unravels, vicious local rumors turn John into a scapegoat, condemning him as a Satan-worshipping drug-dealer. Threatened with murder, his home burned to the ground, John forsakes his farm and wanders through Mexico, where he is transformed by the soulfulness and pageantry of this ancient land. Mysteriously, his quest leads him back to his hostile homeland.

Defying all odds, he gradually transforms his land into a revolutionary farming community, a cultural mecca, where people work and flourish providing fresh vegetables and herbs to thousands of people every week.

The Peterson family farm has become Angelic Organics, one of the largest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms in the United States, a beacon of today’s booming organic farming movement.

www.angelicorganics.com
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Films For Action is a community-powered, digital library for people who want to change the world.

 

Our mission is to provide citizens with the knowledge and perspectives essential to creating a more beautiful, just, sustainable, and democratic society.

Films For Action was founded in 2006 by a few friends in Lawrence, Kansas, after realizing how essential a healthy media is to a healthy democracy.

Although we started out hosting community film screenings in the beginning and did so for many years, our digital library eventually became our primary focus. 

Today, with the help of our members (who can add content directly to our site), we've curated over 5,000 of the best documentaries, short films, and videos that can be watched for free online plus several dozen pay-per-view documentaries, sorted into 34 subjects related to changing the world.

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“Independent media is dangerous because it allows people to speak for themselves. And when you hear someone speaking from their own experience - whether it's a Palestinian child or an Israeli grandmother or an uncle in Afghanistan or a refugee in the Calais refugee camp - it changes you. It breaks the sound barrier. It challenges the stereotypes and the caricatures that fuel the hate groups. You may not agree with what you hear - I mean, how often do we even agree with our family members? - but you begin to understand where they're coming from. That understanding is the beginning of peace. I really do think that the media can be the greatest force for peace on Earth. Instead, all too often, it is wielded as a weapon of war. We have to take the media back.” - Amy Goodman, Place to B at COP21