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Occupy SMA Presents Robert Redford-Produced Environmental Documentary

By Jim Carey

Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Barry,  produced by Robert Redford, Terrence Malick, and Nick Offerman and presented by Occupy San Miguel on Monday, January 8, is a poetic documentary about both the beauty of traditional values—democracy, community, the commons—and their clash with technology and technology’s blind rush toward profits at the expense and destruction of the earth.

The film opens with Wendell Berry`s poem The Timbered Choir—an echo of his 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities Jefferson lecture, where he stated that “No amount of fiddling with capitalism to regulate and humanize it, no pointless rhetoric on the virtues of capitalism or socialism, no billions or trillions spent on ‘defense’ of the ‘American dream,’ can for long disguise this failure. The evidence of it is everywhere: eroded, wasted, or degraded soils; damaged or destroyed ecosystems; extinction of species; whole landscapes defaced, gouged, flooded, or blown up; pollution of the whole atmosphere and of the water cycle; “dead zones” in the coastal waters; thoughtless squandering of fossil fuels and fossil waters, of mineable minerals and ores; natural health and beauty replaced by a heartless and sickening ugliness. Perhaps its greatest success is an astounding increase in the destructiveness and, therefore, the profitability of war…”

Berry asks us to look and see the sadness of frustrated farmers who have gone bankrupt, the satisfaction of rural folk who love the land, the environmental destruction created by larger and larger machines used in industrialized farming, and the dying of the small farm as an option for the future. There is hope when he tells a student, a child of divorced parents, that “We all come from divorce. This is an age of divorce. Things that belong together have been taken apart, and you can’t put it all back together again. The only thing you can do is take two things that ought to be together and put them back together. Two things, not all things. That’s the way the work has to go. So the main thing becomes a kind of earnest of your faith in and your affection for things that we miss and would like to have again.”

When an editor from The New York Times asks him to write an Op-Ed piece for the paper, he declines and suggests that he might, only when they send a team of reporters to Look & See what has happened to rural America. [MA1]

Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry is an exquisite documentary about the extraordinary life and work of this humble rural seer. This film could not be more relevant, given the global attention to sustainability, food, and climate change. Occupy SMA invites you to join the discussion. The film is 77 minutes. Our event is free.


Meeting and Film

Occupy San Miguel presents

Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry

Mon, Jan 8, 1pm

Quinta Loreto Hotel,

Loreto 15, TV room




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