Germinate International Film Fest has an impressive lineup for agriculturalists and consumers

jaclyn krymowski


Earlier this year, AGDAILY introduced the upcoming Germinate International Film Fest, hosted by Ohio’s Highland County Extension Office. We’ve since had the opportunity to speak with Brooke Beam, Agriculture and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator of the Highland County Office and festival contact, to go more in-depth on what viewers can expect from this one-of-a-kind celebration of agriculture.

“Here, there’s something to learn for even the most well-versed agriculturalist,” she says.

Videography is the news, informational, and educational media of choice for many people these days. Some numbers indicate by 2020 an incredible 82 percent of all internet usage will be spent streaming videos. With that in mind, an interest in food documentaries is on the rise with the up-and-coming generations, who are showing an increased interest in where their food comes from and how its produced. Add those together, and you have a climate ripe for some agricultural advocacy through the vector of filmmaking. And from that idea, the Germinate International Film Fest was born.

“In agriculture we have a lot of opportunities to make videos, but there isn’t one consolidated place to share all that content to agricultural producers and consumers,” Beam explained. “Over the past few years there’s been a large interest from the public in films that are categorized as food documentaries or food films. And you’ll find a lot of these documentaries on Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming channels, but there really isn’t a lot of opportunity to have much of a discussion from agriculture’s perspective. It’s more a consumer’s or a filmmaker’s perspective who may not always have a lot of agricultural background.”

The contest had over 70 entries in both film and photography categories. Fifty-four entries came from the U.S., with the remaining coming from Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, India, France, South Korea, and Germany.

Some of the films that have been selected include:

  • The Pollinators, directed by Peter Nelson: This film follows migratory beekeepers and their bees throughout a growing season, joining them as they stop to pollinate the myriad plants and trees that depend upon honey bees to grow and produce our food. Much of the work moving bees is done at night when the bees are in their hives so few people actually get to see what these beekeepers do. Throughout the journey we meet farmers, scientists, chefs and academics to give perspective to this complex food system that we all depend on.
  • SkyGrazers: A Story of the Flying Farmers, directed by Annmarie Aronoff and Christopher Aronoff: This uplifting documentary film celebrates a resilient group of rural aviators who show us that you’re never too old to fly! Shedding light on the root of the global pilot shortage, and the importance of agriculture in our changing times, SkyGrazers illustrates the triumphant stories and struggles of the International Flying Farmers.
  • Losing Ground, directed by Josh Comninellis: This is the first film to expose the impact of urban sprawl on American agriculture. With that urbanization brings challenges and opportunities. Hear from five farm and ranch families in this documentary.
  • Combined, directed by Mark Honer: Rachel Crane has struggled to make it as an actor in Los Angeles. But running the business of a several thousand acre wheat farm is as natural as riding a bike. The farm in Kansas has been in the Crane family for almost 150 years. Now faced with the inevitability of her father’s retirement, she must soon make a choice. Acting or Farming.
  • Hardscrabble, directed by Rachel Leggett and Jennifer Prewitt: A tale of resiliency told by three generations of farmers. In central, rural Ohio, Hardscrabble Farms has relied on their tight-knit family and their hometown’s agricultural community to remain successful for over 100 years. The three generations reflect on the past and look to the future of their family farm in “Hardscrabble”.
  • Beauty & Bounty, directed by Doug Armknecht: Drones give us unique perspectives on the world, and this is especially striking over the sweeping landscapes of farm country. Jhan LaRosh describes how drones are used on his family farm to capture stunning views and share them with the world. This film shows the beauty of the Kansas plains and the bounty of wheat harvest.
  • Conservation Kids: A GREEN STEM Documentary, directed by Cheryle Franceschi: More than ever before, kids across the U.S. are learning about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) inside classrooms, both public and private. What has been over looked as STEM by most educational systems is that natural resource conservation can be found right outside everyone’s doorstep.

“These films are highlighting a lot of conversations that are taking viewers all over the world,” Beam said. “The quality of the films, the stories that are being told through these films are very good. We’re quite pleased with the quality and kinds of films that we’ve received.”

The film festival, hosted by the Highland County Extension office in Hillsboro, Ohio, will be the first of its kind. Two theaters of 400 and 88 seats will be playing the films. The festival is open to families, agriculturalists, and any consumers who are interested. The office highly encourages anyone of any background to attend. Beam says the festival is really an opportunity to see and experience what is happening on farms both domestic and international.

Hopefully, she says, consumers will be able to practically apply their learning to their own lives and be more of aware of what different food production terms and practices mean when they make purchases at the store.

“We have everyone from professional filmmakers all the way down to a fifth grader from Highland County who is competing. You don’t have to have a lot of formal skills to be a successful filmmaker and participate in the contest. You’ve just got to have the passion and the drive to try. We’ve got films from all skill levels and I believe it will be a very important marketing tool down the road.”

Additional information and tickets can be found on the festival’s official website.

You can also contact the Ohio State University Extension, Highland County Office for more information or tickets by calling 937-393-1918.

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