Agriculture and world cinema come together for the 4th Agriculture and Art Film Festival – The Vacaville Reporter
Vacaville is a hub for agriculture, and it’s a town that many artists call home. Therefore, it is a suitable place to showcase cinema from around the world dealing with topics such as agriculture, sustainable food and more.
The 4th edition of the Ag & Art Film Festival returns to Vacaville from September 14 to 18 at Journey Downtown.
The festival kicked off in 2019 at what was then called Theater DeVille, a performance venue on Main Street that operated as a movie theater under many names for many decades. For its second year in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic halted live events, festival director Lisa Murray said the film festival still found a way to adapt.
“We limited ourselves to outdoor screenings (on farms),” she said.
This year, the festival is back in person at the same site it started, though it’s now home to Journey Downtown. Once again, audiences will be able to view short and feature films focusing on agricultural issues around the world.
Murray received 60 submitted films this year and narrowed the selections down to 37.
“I chose films that I believe would benefit the people of Vacaville and the surrounding area as a form of entertainment, enlightenment and education,” she said.
This year’s films come from countries such as Spain, Canada, Peru, Indonesia, Kenya, UK, France and more. Murray said she received more movies than usual as well as higher quality movies.
“I think maybe now people believe it’s a real festival, and I get better, better movies,” she said. “It was exciting to see, and it helped me choose movies for more than obvious reasons, which go deeper, find movies that had a lot of heart or were just of higher quality.”
Murray said she even received more art film submissions than in previous years.
“I had secretly said it in my head last year: I really want to have more art films next year,” she said. “And I did. I have so many art films, and it’s going to be really exciting.
Films will be screened in two “blocks” each day, with the first block starting at 10am and the second at 2pm with lunch in between – except Sundays, when the first film is screened at 11am followed by a short film. coffee break rather than a lunch break.
Highlights from this year include “Marcellus Hall: An Artist in New York City,” a film about an illustrator whose works have been featured in the New Yorker, Atlantic and Time; and “Miss Alma Thomas: A Life in Color,” about the Howard University graduate who became the first black woman to have her paintings exhibited at the White House in 2009.
“It’s a really good film about his artistic journey,” Murray said.
“Miss Alma Thomas” is narrated by Alfre Woodard, an award-winning actress known for her roles in “Passion Fish,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “Captain America: Civil War.”
Another highlight is “Why I’m Vegan,” a multimedia short by electronic musician Moby that uses animation and stills to detail how he got into animal rights advocacy.
“It’s said very softly,” Murray said. “It’s not meant to be a film of anger or hatred against anything, but it’s just like ‘Why am I vegan.
Murray is not a vegan herself but supports better treatment of farm animals.
“I don’t like factory farming, so I’m starting to realize I have a view on that,” she said. “If I get a film that shows something like that without any consideration for animals, I don’t show it at the festival, but I’ve only received a few films like that, to be honest. Most of them, farmers are small farmers and they love their animals and treat their animals with great care. »
Another film, “Chicken Soup for the Soil,” focuses on two North Carolina farmers who are “at the forefront of sustainable agriculture,” according to Murray.
“They are so compassionate to their animals and they are so strong,” she said. “It’s such a beautiful representation of why I wanted to start the festival.”
From the UK, director Oscar Harding’s ‘A Life on the Farm’ tells the story of Somerset farmer Charles Carson who created a bizarre feature film at home – described as a cross between Monty Python and ” The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” – which Carson’s grandson inherited after his death.
“He did all these quirky farm life videos,” Murray said. “It’s about life, but farming is life… It’s a very candid perspective, and it’s a first video.”
Given Vacaville’s proximity to many wineries, a few films focus on winemaking. “A Year in the Life: BC Wines” focuses on BC winemakers, “Tom Myers: Made in Paso” tells the story of Paso Robles’ most famous winemaker, and “Fruits of Labour” is a documentary that uses the grape as a metaphor for not just the labor of love that goes into making wine, but the labor of love that is love itself.
Murray hopes the public will take away a sense of pride in such a locally organized event, as well as the opportunity to hear stories from around the world and be inspired to take action on agricultural issues.
“Even if a problem is introduced, I never want it to be just a problem and people to feel stressed,” she said. “I specifically try to find films that present the problems of the things we need to be aware of that are happening in the agricultural world, but the solutions are also presented and show what people are doing to make you feel informed and ready to act.”
The festival will kick off with a party at 6 p.m. on September 14 at Hyatt Place, 610 Orange Drive. Films will begin screening the following day at Journey Downtown, 308 Main St. Tickets will be available at “Festival Plaza” in Journey’s courtyard beginning at 10 a.m. September 14.
Festival passes are also available. These pass holders provide access to all eight cinema blocks as well as admission to the movie “Man in the Field” at 7 p.m. on September 15 and a dedicated wood-fired wine pizza mixer to passholders from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Old Carnegie Library Building next to Journey. Everyone else can enjoy pizza and drinks before the movie.
Other events include a wine tasting and screening of the 2019 film “Yesterday” at Hank & Hazel’s, 501 Merchant St., on September 17 and an awards dinner hosted by Backdoor Bistro, 11B Town Square Place, September 18.
Tickets for all events, along with information about the festival and all films screened, can be viewed at Agandartfilmfestival.com.