In the documentary Family Farm, filmmaker Ari A. Cohen examines some of the challenges small scale farmers face in today’s world of mass production. Visiting farms between Prince Edward Island and Manitoba, Cohen speaks with several types of farmers dealing with a variety of hardships, from livestock disease to pesticides to the slack regulation of agricultural imports. Even though this film is meant to deal with the struggles of the modern farmer, most of the issues addressed are nothing new to anyone who knows anything about the industry.
To voice an unpopular opinion, if farming was easy, everyone would do it. Today’s problems in the agricultural industry have simply replaced past problems that have been solved by things like technology. That doesn’t make the subject of Family Farm any less true or take away from its pertinence, but it’s something the film could have examined to show that these issues are a lot more complex than they’re being presented here. For better or worse, the agricultural industry is one that has always been and will always be at the mercy of external factors, from the weather to dietary fads and everything in between.
Despite some nice cinematography and thoughtful moments, Family Farm is a rather reductive documentary that would be better suited for a grade school class studying agriculture than the presumably well informed audience attending an environmental film festival. (Noah R. Taylor)
Saturday, November 8th, 11:00am, AGO Jackman Hall