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VIFF 2017 Interview: EVOLUTION OF ORGANIC director Mark Kitchell

By Jason Whyte
Posted 10/01/17 12:27:31

"EVOLUTION OR ORGANIC is the story of the organic agriculture movement, told by those who built it. A motley crew of back-to- the-landers, spiritual seekers and farmers' sons and daughters reject chemical farming and set out to explore organic alternatives. It's a heartfelt journey of change, from a small band of rebels to a cultural transformation in the way we grow and eat food." Director Mark Kitchell on EVOLUTION OF ORGANIC which screens at the 2017 edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Is this your first VIFF experience and will you be in Vancouver to attend your screenings?

Yes, I'm a first timer and I will be there.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your background, and how you got into the whole filmmaking business.

I grew up in San Francisco in the 1960s. Competing with my artist brother led me to take up the ultimate art form of our time. When I went to NYU film school I fell in love with documentary. BERKELEY IN THE SIXTIES is the film I am known for, an Academy Award nominee and well-loved classic, one of the defining films about 60s protest. Also made A FIERCE GREEN FIRE about the environmental movement, which includes Greenpeace's rise in Vancouver.

How did this movie come together from your perspective?

This project has led a charmed life. The story of organic came together well. All the best people were interviewed. We found 93 sources of archival film and photos. Editing with veteran Robert Dalva was an education and a dream come true. I broke my land speed record by years, completing the film in just two years.

While you are working on a movie, what keeps you going? What drives you, creatively?

I turned into a pothead finally at the age of 64.

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and how did you over-come it?

The biggest news is about carbon farming as a solution to climate change, through photosynthesis, plants take carbon from the atmosphere and put it back in the ground, where microbes use it to build soil. It's an important breaking story that most of the public doesn't know about. So we felt a charge to explain it well. Used animation, interviews, a breakdown of carbon farming techniques, even an explanation of how livestock graze, trample and dung pasture. We are curious to find out if audiences get it.

If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be?

I love the baby lettuce story, how mesclun or mixed greens launched the broadening of organic.

For the aspiring filmmakers who read our site, I would love to know about the technical side of the film!

I mostly shoot interviews. Director of Photography Vicente Franco was in charge.He shot 4K. We filmed outdoors, used silks above and nets behind to shape the light.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie to audiences here at VIFF?

It's the international premiere. Looking forward to unveiling it. Hoping that the natural audience, all those people who care passionately about where their food comes from and how it is grown, will embrace the story of the organic movement.

Where is this movie going to show next?

Rolling out a grassroots outreach campaign this fall. More than a dozen screenings so far, expect to organize 300+ over the next year or two. Bullfrog Films is distributing, combo of community screenings, educational and comnsumer DVD markets. We be shopping and pitching the film to US public television, digital streaming markets and international distribution.

If you could show your movie in any theater in the world, which one would you choose and why?

On the side of a barn at Hoes Down festival, Saturday 10/07 at the Full Belly Farm in Capay Valley, California!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival taking place in beautiful Vancouver from September 28th to October 13th. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to www.viff.org.

Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

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