We withdrew our film this summer from circulation to make some small changes. We also retitled the film from THE SEER because Mr. Berry expressed misgivings about being identified in the office of prophet. Withdrawing a film slows momentum... but the additional time really has let us improve the film. It provided us a chance to turn some some of the film's half-notes into whole notes and others into rest notes.
We recently were notified that our revised edit of LOOK & SEE would have a chance to premiere at The Sundance Film Festival in January. As noted in the Hollywood Reporter.
This year, the festival will launch The New Climate program, the first time it has ever dedicated programming to a specific theme. Three projects announced Monday are part of that program, including Susan Froemke, John Hoffman and Beth Aala’s Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman in Documentary Premieres and Laura Dunn and Jef Sewell’s Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry in Spotlight.
There has perhaps never been a time where Wendell Berry's voice is more needed. He gives voice to an underrepresented segment of the American population and advocates for a different way of seeing. We are honored that Sundance is bringing more attention to this vital writer and eloquent advocate for family farmers.
Renaming the film "Look & See" among other things has necessitated a new poster design. This is especially important as many Kickstarter backers opted to receive letter-pressed versions of the official film poster. Future versions may evolve to incorporate credits, awards and the like. But for backers, we required a version completely free of marketing metadata. This is that image.
In the treatment above, we are using a subtle autumnal gradient from the L to the E. However, the gradient may not appear in the letter-pressed editions depending on production options. The largest posters especially involve hand-rolling the ink across the raised forms and that may require a different treatment. (We especially loved Mark's letter shape of the "L". It evokes a scythe which of course is used to hand mow grasses.)
When we conceived of this Kickstarter, we knew we could not phone in the campaign. Making a film about Wendell Berry obliged us to factor our decisions continuously. Everywhere possible, we sought to make choices to self-exemplify the values that the film celebrates.
Our curation of Kickstarter rewards provided us once such opportunity to go against the trend. Instead of cheap and easy, we elected to offer handmade goods from genuine artisans. Once the campaign funded, we were thrilled to be able to produce them. Now that the first fruits of those efforts are appearing, we are even more excited.
OWS dropped a photo of the beauties on Instagram which prompted comments like "Gorgeous!" "Can I purchase these? So lovely!" and "Swoon-worthy!!"
That guy, he 's good people. For the curious, here's a lovely piece on Offerman Woodshop that profiles a few different members of the OWS team. We are especially indebted for RH Lee for all the help on this project.
In June, we withdrew our film from circulation to make some changes. We believe these revisions truly will strengthen the film and broaden its audience. We also decided to change the film's title after learning Mr. Berry had misgivings about being labelled a prophet. There were a few other reasons for a title change, but that alone was sufficient.
Our film is, in many ways, about a different way of seeing. To emphasis this idea, we retitled the work LOOK & SEE: A Portrait of Wendell Berry.
The few initial screenings of our Wendell Berry documentary have been encouraging both in terms of audience reactions and critical reception. After working in comparative obscurity for years, it's exciting to see the effects of the work as it reaches others. Sometimes this process is almost metronomically predictable. Play at Festivals. Sell to Distributor. Do some interviews. Start thinking about next project. Sometimes however, the presence of the work in the world prompts entirely unexpected opportunities and developments. In our case, it's prompted us to withdraw the film to make some small changes and corrections.
We expect to relaunch our revisions soon so please watch this space!
When will the film be available for purchase?
We do not have a date yet. We wish we did, but our recent news has forced us to pause our self-distribution plans.
When will Kickstarter rewards be fulfilled?
Happily, almost all Kickstarter rewards were promised for December 2016 / January 2017. And we still are on track for those dates.
Is there a way to pre-order?
Many people have written us asking to pre-order the film. Your wish is our command. You can now pre-order a Blu-Ray Disc here. Your credit card will not be charged until your disc is fulfilled.
CAN I SCREEN THE FILM?
Please fill out our Screening Requests form. Developments have forced us to discontinue screenings in the immediate future. However, we've heard from hundreds of you so far and hope to announce options for screenings within the next six months.
Now that our film is hitting the festival circuit we felt comfortable reflecting on the journey that brought us here. Here's director/producer/editor Laura Dunn as she speaks at Louisville's Festival of Faiths.
(Special thanks to co-producer Owsley Brown, III for his perseverant efforts to help us bring this film into being.)
Tanya Manning-Yarde interviewed Laura recently for the Montclair Film Festival. THE SEER plays Montclair May 7th and 8th in competition. Director of Photography Lee Daniel (Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Boyhood, The Unforeseen, etc.) won a SXSW Award for the film's cinematography will be in person to represent the film.
Wendell recently received Mercer University's Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature. According to the release, this prize was "first awarded in 2012, is named for the 19th-century Southern poet born in Macon. Lanier wrote The Song of the Chattahoochee and The Marshes of Glynn. Using his name recognizes Middle Georgia’s literary heritage and long, often complicated, tradition of writing about the South. The prize is awarded to writers who have engaged and extended that tradition."
Here's a brief excerpt from his acceptance speech.
Pleased to share THE SEER: Portrait of Wendell Berry's Southeastern Premiere will be at the Nashville Film Festival. Once again, we will be in Documentary Competition. If you live near Nashville or just REALLY want to see the film, we encourage you to come see the film in Music City USA.
We are THRILLED to be premiering internationally at HOTDOCS, North America's largest documentary festival. HOTDOCS is of course in Toronto, Canada. Tickets are on sale now. We especially hope we are able to see Canadian Wesley Bates, who provided the signature wood engravings that are used in our film. Angie Driscoll described our film this way:
BONUS: BARBARIAN PRESS
THE SEER will preceded by the world-premiere of Sarah Race's short film BARBARIAN PRESS. We really owe the HOTDOCS programmers a debt of gratitude for such an appropriate coupling. Here's their summary:
We are truly thrilled!
Wendell Berry receives Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from National Book Critics Circle
The full text of Nick's introduction of Wendell Berry
Nearly 500 people have backed our Kickstarter and brought it across the funding finish line. These funds will go primarily to paying for our newly-added PROLOGUE sequence. For those who haven't followed Kickstarter updates, we've shared some original news there, including:
- 30% in three days and climbing!
- Laura's First interview now online
- New Backer Reward by Co-Producer Nick Offerman
- 58% and counting! New engraving and interview
- Thank you! We funded in time for the Premiere!
If you are interested in the latest news, definitely read through those entries! Lots of good stuff.
What the Jurors Said
David Edelstein: (NY Mag/NPR)
As we watched the 10 films in this year’s documentary feature competition, we were struck by a somewhat pervasive theme. SXSW is known for exploring, among other things, the nexus between private technology and the public sphere. Given that we’re living in an increasingly private and solipsistic and often insane-making culture, it’s no surprise that documentary – and for that matter fictional – filmmakers have been moved to create stories about the search for community…for something larger than the self....
In recognition of these riches the jury has opted to give, in addition to its grand prize, two special awards, one of which I will tell you about.
In THE SEER, Director Laura Dunn uses the life and work of Wendell Berry as a springboard for exploring the collapse of the agrarian way of life, which means not just farms but the small-town economies they keep alive. The movie’s prologue, which explores the fragmentation brought on by so-called interactive technologies, could be viewed as the definitive anti-SXSW statement. But! But we forgive her because the movie uses the tools of cinema to transport you to another realm. We’d like to recognize THE SEER's Visual Design which includes archival footage, original [wood] etchings between the film’s chapters and cinematography that captures the spirituality of the material world without lapsing into the womb. It is a beautifully grounded piece of work, and so a special award for Visual Design goes to THE SEER.