"Wendell Berry's Kentucky" premieres on PBS - April 23 @10PM EST

Thanks to Lois Vossen & PBS Independent Lens,  a special one-hour edition of our film will be premiering on public television. This is really encouraging as it will brings Wendell Berry's words to communities that do not have other free ways to see the film. 

Lois is a farm girl herself and has been such a consistent champion of this film from the first time she saw it @ SXSW.   Here's their trailer.

"LOOK & SEE" to play 2017 Sundance Film Festival

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. 

New "Look & See" Poster

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.

  (Wood Engraving by Wesley Bates, Typography by Mark Melnick)

(Wood Engraving by Wesley Bates, Typography by Mark Melnick)

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.) 

First Fruits of our Kickstarter Campaign

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.

As you may remember, co-producer Nick Offerman offered a handcrafted original stool for anyone who backed our film the $2,000 tier.    Here they are freshly oiled and almost ready to ship.

 Stools with Wedged Tenon, Claro Walnut Seats, Eastern Black Walnut Legs

Stools with Wedged Tenon, Claro Walnut Seats, Eastern Black Walnut Legs

OWS dropped a photo of the beauties on Instagram which prompted comments like "Gorgeous!" "Can I purchase these? So lovely!" and "Swoon-worthy!!"

 Official Offerman Woodshop Instagram

Official Offerman Woodshop Instagram

 Some of the Team at Offerman Woodshop (Drift Journal)

Some of the Team at Offerman Woodshop (Drift Journal)

When I learned that Laura Dunn was making a Wendell Berry documentary, I immediately alarmed her with the enthusiasm of my enquiry. ‘Please let me do whatever I can to help your film! I will coil cable, I will sweep the barn, I will make sandwiches, I’ll wrangle livestock! I’m great with sheep! You name it!’ Laura placatingly said that she had those areas well-covered, but that I could possibly serve as a valuable cheerleader and fundraiser for the effort – so, after I calmed down, that is what I have proudly become.

As she was editing the picture, Laura happened upon a section in which Mr. Berry talks about artists making things, including a stool, and she thought it would be neat to have some footage of just such a stool being made, and, lucky for me, I just to happen to make things like stools in my woodshop. We brought in a gorgeous Arri Alexa camera and shot my hands and my tools and some California walnut with a great deal of personality as I fashioned it into a 3-legged stool with mostly vintage hand tools. My face never appears, and so I believe it is the finest film work I have done to date. I am sincerely humbled and honored to have the chance to support this beautiful poem of a film, espousing the world view of our most important American writer and thinker…
— Nick Offerman, American Woodworker

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.

"LOOK & SEE"

 

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.

Temporary Pause

Dear friends,

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!

 


OBVIOUS questions:

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.

St Catherine's College (home to Berry Farming Program) to Close

Awful news for those of us who care about Wendell Berry's farming concerns.  St. Catharine's, host college to the Berry Ag program, has announced it is closing its door after nearly 200 years.  

“It’s a wonderful place,” Berry said. “One of the reasons I went there is because they asked how my work and my father’s work fit in with the four pillars of Dominican life (community, service, spirituality and study) and I thought, ‘that is the correct question.’
— Mary Berry

Montclair Film Festival Interviews Laura Dunn

 

D.P. Lee Daniel and Laura Dunn interviewing Henry County farmers

I do not have a script before we shoot. I immerse myself in the material – in this case, I read everything I could find that Wendell has written – and then step into that world and respond to what comes.
— Laura Dunn, Director of THE SEER

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. 

READ THE INTERVIEW or BUY TICKETS ONLINE.

 

Wendell Berry wins 2016 Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature

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.

Mercer University's Center for Southern Studies awarded the 2016 Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature to Wendell Berry on April 23 in the Presidents Dining Room inside the University Center. The prize honors significant career contributions to Southern writing in drama, fiction or poetry. The prize presentation is free and open to the public.
Most people are too distracted automotively and electronically to know what world they’re in – let alone what the Bible might say about it.
— Wendell Berry, April 24, 2016

THE SEER wins Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at Nashville Film Festival

For illuminating the beauty of our connection to the land the Documentary Competition Grand Jury Prize was presented to, SEED: The Untold Story, directed by Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz and The Seer: A Portrait of Wendell Berry, directed by Laura Dunn. (TIE)

THE SEER tied with the film SEED.  You can read more about other Nashville Film Festival winners in this Examiner story.

THE SEER to have Int'l Premiere @ HOTDOCS in Toronto

ORDER TICKETS HERE

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:

Filmed over four seasons, The Seer surveys the changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America. Presented from the point of view of poet and essayist Wendell Berry, this cinematic documentary uses Berry’s prolific writing and lifelong relationship to his land and community in Kentucky as the basis for a larger discussion about the ideological struggle between the agrarian virtues of simplicity and rootedness and a capital-intensive model of industrialized agriculture. How has farming gone from art to industry in a single generation? More than a plea to return to “simpler” times and sustainable practices, Berry puts the “culture” back into agriculture. He argues that we can think of farming as an art form, a creative endeavour like writing a novel, so that when it’s threatened with loss we’re not just losing a thing, we’re also losing our appreciation of and connection to it, and ultimately, the connection to ourselves

 

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:  

In the age of mechanical reproduction, this intimate, visually beautiful film celebrates handmade pursuits. Jan and Crispin Elsted have been making fine art books by letterpress for over 30 years. Partners in life and work, the couple are achingly aware they may be the last of a kind.

We are truly thrilled!