Monday, October 27, 2008

"Planet in Focus" film festival

I had the opportunity to watch a couple of films on the weekend at the "Planet in Focus" film festival. Planet in Focus was one of the groups that had a table at OPSEU's convention earlier this year. OPSEU was one of two union sponsors of this year's festival.

The first film I saw was "Farms without Farmers".

In Paraguay farming has undergone a fundamental shift and much of it is due to the introduction of industrial soybean crops. In a series of four vignettes, a people, a landscape and a way of life are radically transformed by the establishment of a monoculture agricultural crop that leads to razed farms, a diseased population, dislocation and the ironic growth of the private security business busy in the act of uprooting the populace. Agricultural development show’s its most ruthless face.
The second film was "The Hunger Season".
The Hunger Season refers to a time when all the grain was eaten and the autumn harvest had not begun. Over the course of two years, filmmaker Beadi Finzi follows two ends of a spectrum dealing with a humanitarian crisis caused by climate change, neglect, commodity markets as well as local and international shortsightedness. Justice, a teacher, and loyal subject to his king in Swaziland, finds himself and his pupils caught in a lingering drought and the reality of diminishing food aid. At the other end of the spectrum are the policy makers, members of the World Food Program (WFP) the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN making decisions about food distribution at a time when aid handouts are at their lowest point since the Cold War. The film looks at the irony of the failure of the Millennium Goals, while also revealing how a country such as Swaziland became dependent on foreign aid rather than producing its own crops in areas that could easily have been developed for food production. This is an important and timely film.

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