Nick Offerman Intros Wendell Berry for Lifetime Achievement Award

    Wendell Berry with Nick Offerman at National Book Critics Circle.


Wendell Berry with Nick Offerman at National Book Critics Circle.


Wendell Berry receives Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from National Book Critics Circle

The full text of Nick's introduction of Wendell Berry

Thank you kindly. I would like to sincerely thank the board and the members of the National Book Critics Circle, not to be confused with NBC, for inviting me to introduce this year’s lifetime achievement award, being presented to Mr. Wendell Berry. I consider it an intense privilege and hope that I’ve taken a tolerable stab at what was intended by business casual. Mr. Berry has been around for 81 years or so, and in that time he’s given us eight novels, several dozen short stories, 28 volumes of poetry, and 31 books of nonfiction. Tonight we’re celebrating a man who apparently does not like to take a nap. The list of accolades already bestowed upon him and his writing is chock full of richly deserved reverence and gratitude; it’s as long as my arm and would no doubt be as tedious for me to enumerate as it would be delightful for me to skip. The kinds of awards with words in their titles like National, Poet, Guggenheim, Kentuckian, Humanities, Stegner, Servant, and Jefferson. The types of awards that will get your hand shaken by the president and by people even smarter than that.

Now I don’t personally know Wendell Berry that well, but I have had the pleasure to get to know him a little bit. Well enough to know that there are likely things he’d rather be doing than sitting in a New York auditorium listening to a kid from Illinois pay him compliments. I also happen to know that some new lambs are arriving imminently in Kentucky, their farmyard itinerary inexorably unfolding fully heedless of the possible pertinence of these my remarks. I would reassure the lambs if I could that this to-do was not my idea. But to the matter at hand, Wendell, I’m sorry to put you through this but I ought to point out that it’s you alone who’ve made your bed and I’m afraid you’re going to have to sleep in it with me. I first wrote a letter to Mr. Berry in 1995 asking his permission to let me adapt his story “Fidelity” into a film. He said no. I’m an actor first, so I was of course able to take that as a compliment, and thus our acquaintance has survived.

Ladies and gentlemen, to my way of thinking, this exceptional lifetime achievement as farmer, poet, husband, citizen, novelist, neighbor, essayist, father, son, grandfather, pacifist, brother, and fisherman, with the disposition of a philosopher king, would not have so occurred had it not been for two imperative life choices. The first and most consequential of these was of course his marriage to his wife Tanya in 1957. I misspoke when I said that he alone had made his bed, because he and Tanya have tucked in the bedclothes together now for nigh on 60 years. They’ve each been responsible for 50 percent of the bed-making and if there has in fact been any deviation from that ratio, well, that’s their business. They’re still together so they clearly must have hit upon an accord of some stripe. However, as Mr. Berry is to be rightly and fulsomely lauded for the achievements he has compiled, I vowed that his marriage must be cited in the same breath, for in many ways marriage and fidelity are the central themes at the root of Mr. Berry’s life’s work. Literal marriage between two people yes, but also our undeniable betrothal to the natural world and our responsibilities to that bed as well. As he tells us in his essay “The Body and the Earth”: “No matter how much one may love the world as a whole, we can live fully in it only by living responsibly in some small part of it. Where we live and who we live there with define the terms of our relationship to the world and to humanity. We thus come again to the paradox that one can become whole only by the responsible acceptance of one’s partiality.”

Now, I have to apologize to you for having the temerity to choose a passage of Mr. Berry’s text to read out loud. It’s not that it isn’t beautifully wrought. It’s just that with every word I transcribe I’m then reminded of two other passages I’d love to tell you about plus a song from Burley Coulter. And then I begin to cry — I suppose with gratitude, although the true source of my emotion is perhaps beyond my comprehension. It feels like coming home after a long time away, if you’re lucky enough to live in a home made by the kind of people in his stories of the Port William Membership. Like you’re coming home to the Feltners. The sort of crying that feels really good and let’s please leave it at that. I also know that Mr. Berry doesn’t like to hear his stuff out loud, so I apologize to him as well and I’ll try to keep it to a minimum.

Trying to live in a manner that pays fealty to our marriages in every sense of the word continues to become more and more of a conundrum with each passing year, in a world lousy with innovation, isolationism, and rampant consumerism. As our gentle reporter, sometimes frank, sometimes outraged, sometimes lyrical but always honest, staunch, patient, and so observant, Mr. Berry has had more than enough fodder to fuel his prolific output as he has remained married both as a husband and in his husbandry to the pastoral acres of his family farm in Henry County, Kentucky. Which brings me to the second imperative life choice. After an exciting early career of writing and teaching, including stints from Stanford to Italy and France to New York City, Wendell Berry realized that he would prefer to lace up his boots and roll up his sleeves and perform his life’s work in the home place and with the home people he knew best. More than that, it now seems clear that his work was only going to fully blossom if he was gazing through a 40-pane window overlooking the Kentucky River. What a good and wise choice he made. He applied his life to his home and his home in turn applied his life to him, and they’re still dancing together. The fruits of his fidelity are clearly printed, widely available, and are the reason we’re here to crow about him tonight.

I recognize that I should begin to head us back into shore, since my introduction cannot help but be insufficient. How could one hope to succeed in such a task? “Ladies and gentleman, I give you the Mississippi River!” Our humble honoree would no doubt claim that he himself has not yet succeeded in covering everything there is to illuminate, but those of us paying attention would have to argue that he’s taken a pretty damn fine swing at it and he’s not yet hung up his cleats.

Mr. Berry’s book Life Is a Miracle contains, among other things, a very thoughtful refutation of another book by Edward O. Wilson entitled Consilience. Before delivering Mr. Wilson one of the most considerate ass-kickings I’ve ever read, Mr. Berry makes this disclaimer. “I’m aware how brash this commentary will seem coming from me who have no competence or learning in science. The issue I’m attempting to deal with, however, is not knowledge but ignorance. In ignorance I believe I may pronounce myself a fair expert.” He steadfastly reminds us first that we’re human and therefore fallible. Then he reminds us that we can never know anything, and so we must make a go of it in our half knowledge. And with this as our starting point, why then don’t we slow down a minute and love one another? As he so sweetly states, it all turns on affection. Dear Mr. Berry, if you are ignorant, then what on God’s green earth are we, your ardent students and fans? I guess we’re to understand that you are ignorant like Socrates was ignorant.
What did the rest of us do when we first comprehended the odes of Keats? When we heard the triumph of Beethoven’s Eroica symphony? When we beheld the newly inked Declaration of Independence? When faced with the enormity of such moments of inspired human goodness, there’s little to do but applaud through our delighted laughter and tears, and pay heed to these signposts so erected that we too may see the path, so that we might enlighten rather than destroy, so that we may each do our best to leave our small place on earth nicer than we found it.

We like people to tell it like it is. Those who most effectively wield this ability, gently holding up a mirror to ourselves with patience, creativity and compassion, comprise the body of women and men whom we consider to be our best writers, the select few whose gift allows all humanity to feel that this writing is specifically referring to them alone. Tonight we want to make this writer feel our gratitude for the ways in which his telling of the truth has made us feel. When such a writer so skillfully imparts the very things that we have forgotten that we need to hear, with a candor that is sometimes tricky to register through the din of contemporary distractions, but once we’ve caught the tune of the thing and felt it thrilling our very blood, to epiphany and stark understanding, then we call that writer Wendell Berry and we say thank you for your lifetime achievement. Ladies and gentlemen, Wendell Berry.

THE SEER Kickstarter Has Funded

Thank You!

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:

If you are interested in the latest news, definitely read through those entries! Lots of good stuff.



SXSW Awards Special Jury Prize to THE SEER

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.

What We Said

Laura Dunn (Director, Producer, Editor)

Thank you so much to Janet [Pierson] and to SXSW. I’ve lived in Austin for about 18 years so it’s really special to make a film about trying to find a home in the world… and start it at home. I just wanted to thank SXSW for that opportunity. For Visual Design, I will let my husband say something because he designed the graphics and the prologue... but I DID want to give a shout out to Lee Daniel, our cinematographer. Many of you know him. Lee can’t be here tonight, but he’ll be very excited to hear about this. For his beautiful and poignant work to be recognized means a great deal to me. Thank you.

Jef Sewell (Producer/Co-Director/Graphics)

[to Jurors] Thank y’all so much. Really appreciate it. I just wanted to cite someone who may not get the recognition very often. It’s the …engraver that was mentioned. We have a series of images in the film that were hand-engraved out of pieces of wood by an artist named Wesley Bates. He does a lot of imagery for Wendell Berry’s poetry. But he did a very striking image as our title image and poster for the film so I want to say a special shout out to this guy. It’s unbelievably meticulous work. Talk about painstaking and handmade. It’s a privilege to be able to use his art. It does a lot of work FOR us, thank him and everybody else involved in the film, everybody who came with us [gestures towards crew in audience – Justin Hennard and Lynsey Jones].

Thanks to SXSW and to the Documentary Jury for this special honor. We’re truly grateful.

See an Excerpt from THE SEER at Our New Kickstarter

Today we're pleased to be able to share our first public excerpt from footage shot for THE SEER: A Portrait of Wendell Berry.  It's exclusively available on our new Kickstarter Page.  We are trying to raise funds to help pay for post-production costs before our SXSW World Premiere in a month.

Please come watch the video and also learn about some really neat rewards we're making available for backers of our Kickstarter.

"The Seer " SXSW Screening Times Confirmed

Our Screening Times have been confirmed.   

World Premiere:

Saturday, March 12 
1:30PM - 2:52PM
Stateside Theatre


  • Director, Laura Dunn, 
  • Cinematographer, Lee Daniel,
  • Producer, Jef Sewell
  • Co-Producer, Nick Offerman
  • Composer, Kerry Muzzey
  • Mary Berry, The Berry Center

Sunday, March 13 
6:15PM - 7:37PM
Rollins Theatre at the Long Center

  • Director, Laura Dunn, 
  • Cinematographer, Lee Daniel,
  • Producer, Jef Sewell
  • Composer, Kerry Muzzey
  • Mary Berry, The Berry Center

Wednesday, March 16 
5:30PM - 6:52PM
Stateside Theatre

  • Director, Laura Dunn, 
  • Cinematographer, Lee Daniel,
  • Producer, Jef Sewell
  • Copious numbers of small Sewell children

THE SEER wins award from DC Environmental Film Festival. To premiere Thursday, March 24 @ 7PM.

The DC Environmental Film Festival just announced that THE SEER has won their 2016 "Beautiful Swimmers" award. We were genuinely surprised when we learned they had chosen the film for their award. We are also immensely grateful. The festival runs immediately on the heels of SXSW (March 15-26). Laura, Jef and Mary Berry (Exec. Director of The Berry Center) will be in attendance for the DC premiere of the film. 

Established by the Warner/Kaempfer family for the 2015 Festival in memory of William Warner, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Beautiful Swimmers, a study of crabs and watermen in the Chesapeake Bay, this award recognizes a film that reflects a spirit of reverence for the natural world.

Tickets are $10 @ National Geographic Society Grosvenor Auditorium. (Reservations required.)

THE SEER Premieres in competition at SXSW

Wendell writing before his forty paned window in Port Royal, Kentucky.

Now it can be told.  THE SEER: A Portrait of Wendell Berry will have its World-Premiere at SXSW in March. We learned today that the film will be in competition and receive a SouthBites screening, too. We look forward to sharing what we've been working on for the past few years.  Considering the subject matter, it's particularly special to share it with our home town first.  

No trailer yet, but many new images from the film are now in our gallery. 

Dates: To Be Announced.

The Seer Festival Movie Poster

We are thrilled to be able to share THE SEER's Festival Movie Poster with you first.  The poster features an achingly beautiful wood engraving by Wesley Bates.  Wesley is among the most talented living wood engravers in the world.  His imaginative and idealistic images have accompanied Wendell Berry's texts for decades, especially his limited-run works of letterpress poetry.  If you are unfamiliar with woodcuts, they are exactly what they sound like. Wesley hand etched this image out of a single block of wood.     


Wood Engraving by Wesley Bates.  Type/Layout design by Mark Melnick

Designer Mark Melnick provided typography and layout for the poster (and typeset many elements in the film itself). The typeface Portrait (Commercial Type / Berton Hasebe, 2013) was utilized throughout; its simplistic angles and almost spartan shapes felt decidedly unmodern, though its many optical weights proved highly versatile.

Henry County news features THE SEER Composer Kerry Muzzey

These are very, very real people with human and touching stories,” he said. “There’s just an inherent kindness to the people in these stories and that’s something I wanted to use this to reflect — this very human, gentle quality of these very good people....I miss spending time with this movie, figuring out the music, and listening to Wendell Berry’s voice. It was a very immersive experience, scoring this doc, and it was a big challenge.
— Kerry Muzzey

We were delighted to see that Henry County Local wrote a feature story on our film's composer, Kerry Muzzey.  We have worked with Kerry on two projects now and he's a delight.  We encourage you to read the story for yourself.

Ken Kesey's Letter to Wendell Berry and others

Letter's of Note in 2012 reproduced the following letter from author Ken Kesey (One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest) from Co-Evolution Quarterly.  It was written after the tragic death of Ken's young son Jed in a bus wreck on the way to a wrestling tournament. 

Dear Wendell and Larry and Ed and Bob and Gurney:

Partners, it’s been a bitch.

I’ve got to write and tell somebody about some stuff and, like I long ago told Larry, you’re the best backboard I know. So indulge me a little; I am but hurt.

We built the box ourselves (George Walker, mainly) and Zane and Jed’s friends and frat brothers dug the hole in a nice spot between the chicken house and the pond. Page found the stone and designed the etching. You would have been proud, Wendell, especially of the box — clear pine pegged together and trimmed with redwood. The handles of thick hemp rope. And you, Ed, would have appreciated the lining. It was a piece of Tibetan brocade given Mountain Girl by Owsley 15 years ago, gilt and silver and russet phoenixbird patterns, unfurling in flames. And last month, Bob, Zane was goose hunting in the field across the road and killed a snow goose. I told him be sure to save the down. Susan Butkovitch covered this in white silk for the pillow while Faye and MG and Gretch and Candace stitched and stapled the brocade into the box.

It was a double-pretty day, like winter holding its breath, giving us a break. About 300 people stood around and sung from the little hymnbooks that Diane Kesey had Xeroxed — “Everlasting Arms,” “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” “In the Garden” and so forth. With all my cousins leading the singing and Dale on his fiddle. While we were singing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” Zane and Kit and the neighbor boys that have grown up with all of us carried the box to the hole. The preacher is also the Pleasant Hill School superintendent and has known our kids since kindergarten. I learned a lot about Jed that I’d either forgotten or never known — like his being a member of the National Honor Society and finishing sixth in a class of more than a hundred.

We sung some more. People filed by and dropped stuff in on Jed. I put in that silver whistle I used to wear with the Hopi cross soldered on it. One of our frat brothers put in a quartz watch guaranteed to keep beeping every 15 minutes for five years. Faye put in a snapshot of her and I standing with a pitchfork all Grantwoodesque in front of the old bus. Paul Foster put in the little leatherbound New Testament given him by his father who had carried it during his 65 years as a minister. Paul Sawyer read from Leaves of Grass while the boys each hammered in the one nail they had remembered to put in their pockets. The Betas formed a circle and passed the loving cup around (a ritual our fraternity generally uses when a member is leaving the circle to become engaged) (Jed and Zane and I are all members, y’unnerstand, not to mention Hagen) and the boys lowered the box with these ropes George had cut and braided. Zane and I tossed in the first shovelfuls. It sounded like the first thunderclaps of Revelations...

But it’s an earlier scene I want to describe for you all, as writers and friends and fathers...up at the hospital, in cold grey Spokane:

He’d finally started moving a little. Zane and I had been carrying plastic bags of snow to pack his head in trying to stop the swelling that all the doctors told us would follow as blood poured to the bruised brain. And we noticed some reaction to the cold. And the snow I brushed across his lips to ease the bloody parch where all the tubes ran in caused him to roll his arms a little. Then more. Then too much, with the little monitor lights bleeping faster and faster, and I ran to the phone to call the motel where I had just sent most of the family for some rest.

”You guys better get back over here! He’s either going or coming.”

Everybody was there in less than five minutes — Chuck and Sue, Kit and Zane, Shan and her fiance Jay, Jay’s dad Irby, Sheryl and her husband Bill, my mom, whole family except for my dead daddy and Grandma Smith down with age and Alzheimer’s. Jed’s leg was shaking with the force of his heartbeat. Kit and Zane tried to hold it. He was starting to go into seizures, like the neurosurgeon had predicted.

Up till this time everybody had been exhorting him to “Hang on, Old Timer. Stick it out. This thing can’t pin you. You’re too tough, too brave. Sure it hurts but you can pull through it. Just grit your teeth and hang on.” Now we could see him trying, fighting. We could see it in his clenching fists, his threshing legs. And then aw Jesus we saw it in his face. The peacefully swollen unconscious blank suddenly was filled with expression. He came back in. He checked it out, and he saw better than we could begin to imagine how terribly hurt he was. His poor face grimaced with pain. His purple brow knitted and his teeth actually did try to clench on the tubes.

And then, O my old buddies, he cried. The doctors had already told us in every gentle way they could that he was brain dead, gone for good, but we all saw it...the quick flickerback of consciousness, the awful hurt being realized, the tears saying “I don’t think I can do ‘er this time, Dad. I’m sorry, I truly am...”

And everybody said, “It’s okay, ol’ Jedderdink. You know better than we do. Breathe easy. Go on ahead. We’ll catch you later down the line.”

His threshing stopped. His face went blank again. I thought of Old Jack, Wendell, ungripping his hands, letting his fields finally go.

The phone rang in the nurses’ quarters. It was the doctor, for me. He had just appraised all the latest readouts on the monitors. “Your son is essentially dead, Mr. Kesey. I’m very sorry.”

And the sorrow rung absolutely honest. I said something. Zane picked up the extension and we watched each other while the voice explained the phenomena. We said we saw it also, and were not surprised. Thank you...

Then the doctor asked a strange thing. He wanted to know what kind of kid Jed was. Zane and I both demanded what he meant. He said he was wondering how Jed would have felt about being an organ donor. Our hearts both jumped.

”He would love it! Jed’s always been as generous as they come. Take whatever you can use!”

The doctor waited for our elation to ease down, then told us that to take the kidneys they had to take them before the life support was turned off. Did we understand? After a while we told him we did.

So Faye and I had to sign five copies apiece, on a cold formica countertop, while the machine pumped out the little “beep...beep...beep...” in the dim tangle of technology behind us. In all my life, waking and dreaming, I’ve never imagined anything harder.

Everybody went in and told him goodbye, kissed his broken nose, shook his hand, squeezed his big old hairy foot...headed down the corridor. Somebody said it might be a good idea to get a scrip for some kind of downers. We’d all been up for about 40 hours, either in the chapel praying like maniacs, or at his bedside talking to him. We didn’t know if we could sleep.

Chuck and I walked back to the intensive care ward to ask. All the doctors were there, bent over a long list, phoning numbers, matching blood types, ordering such a hurry they hardly had time to offer sympathy. Busy, and justly so. But the nurses, the nurses bent over their clipboards, could barely see to fill out the forms.

They phoned the hotel about an hour later to tell us it was over, and that the kidneys were in perfect shape. That was about four in the morning. They phoned again a little after six to say that the kidneys were already in two young somebodies.

What a world.

We’ve heard since that they used twelve things out of him, including corneas. And the redwinged blackbirds sing in the budding greengage plumtree.

With love,


P.S. When Jed’s wallet was finally sorted out of the debris and confusion of the wreck it was discovered that he had already provided for such a situation. He had signed the place on his driver’s license indicating that he wanted to be an organ donor in the event of etc., etc. One man gathers what another man spills.


Recently Zane Kesey (another of Ken's sons) posted the original letter on Facebook.   And notably, the postscript differs in Zane's version of the letter.  In Zane's version of the letter,  Ken describes checking a Wendell book to confirm the spelling of his name, and the book falling open to Berry's poem "To Know the Dark"

Zane periodically shares his own reflections on this heartrending episode himself here on his Facebook page.


"The Unforeseen" finally available in HD

It's been almost 8 and a half years since our previous film The Unforeseen premiered at Sundance. The movie, which focused on Austin's struggles to preserve its natural heritage in the face of ever-increasing growth, proved unexpectedly prescient. Since its release, Austin's growth has exploded beyond anyone's imagination (outside of the Austin Chamber of Commerce). The Austin of The Unforeseen was a city whose growth still, in large part, came from people who were in and around Texas.  Not so today. 

It was the making of The Unforeseen that in fact that prompted Laura to want to make a film about Wendell Berry.  True story.  If you've seen the film, you know that Wendell Berry's voice comes and goes reading his poem "Santa Clara Valley".  But it wasn't always that way. During a rough cut screening, [executive producer] Terry Malick observed how powerful it would be if we could get Wendell Berry himself reading his own words.  In Terry's words  "[Berry's] voice would be like an oblique angle piercing the film." 

To record Wendell, Laura initially wrote for permission. Once granted, we traveled to Henry County in what became a treacherous icestorm.  Our four-wheel drive gave out during the trip, but we hobbled to the Berry's with two-wheel drive. Despite the conditions, and to the shock of our host, we arrived when we said we would.  Wendell graciously hosted us, visited a bit and allowed us to record his reading of the poem.  We left, went on our way and proceeded to become stranded in Louisville while the car was repaired.

It was this visit to the Berry's farm that perhaps, more than anything, germinated Laura's idea for THE SEER. Rather than make a traditional biopic ABOUT Wendell, could we somehow approximate the sense of a visit with Berry for the viewer? Could we convey Wendell's words to viewers in a way that left them hungering for more? (i.e. his novels, essays and poems.) That is what we hope to accomplish with our new film, and we very much have our old film to thank for it.

If you've any interest, that film, The Unforeseen is finally available in HD for the very first time. You can buy or rent it on iTunes starting today, July 14, 2015.

Sundance's Tabitha Jackson includes FORTY PANES Audio Excerpt in Keynote

Tabitha Jackson, Sundance Institute

Tabitha Jackson, Sundance Institute


Tabitha Jackson, director of the Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program, recently asked  our permission to use a brief audio excerpt from THE SEER in her recent DOC NYC Keynote. 

You can read about Tabitha's presentation here:

And you can listen to the interview excerpt below.

Nick Offerman hosts another Fundraiser in LA this Sunday

Nick Offerman, woodworker/musician/author/actor is a man of many talents.  As blog followers know, Nick tirelessly champions the reading of Wendell Berry. In fact, even when it came to promote his OWN book, Nick somehow found a way to work in a nod to Berry:

We're pleased to announce, once again, that Mr. Offerman is hosting a fundraiser for THE SEER: A Conversation with Wendell Berry in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 13th at 7pm. (For those who missed it, here's our recap of the last fundraiser.) 

Nick's guests this time include Will Forte, Bo Burnham, Johnathan Rice, Marc Evan Jackson, Megan Amram and more. 

We hope to see you there!


Big Week next week in Kentucky

Our crew heads back to Kentucky next week.  As our previous shoots captured the visual quintessence of fall and winter, we are hopeful that spring won't disappoint.

The snowfall begins during our winter Steadicam shoot

The snowfall begins during our winter Steadicam shoot

As an added surprise, Laura Dunn (our film's director/producer and editor) was invited to speak on "Healing" at Louisville's Festival of the Faiths.   Laura will share excerpts from THE SEER: A Conversation with Wendell Berry footage shot to date with attendees.   Thursday May 15th from 7-9PM.   In addition to Laura, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gary Snyder and Wendell Berry himself will discuss their decades-long friendship with moderator Jack Shoemaker.  Shoemaker, owner of Counterpoint Press, is publishing select correspondence of Snyder and Berry in a new book called "Distant Neighbors."  (Advance copies will be sold at the event)

Wendell Berry isn't the only person speaking at "Festival of Faiths..." Our very own Laura Dunn is as well.

Wendell Berry isn't the only person speaking at "Festival of Faiths..." Our very own Laura Dunn is as well.

If you're around, we'd love to see you at Laura's presentation! 

Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Farmer Boy"

Lately we've been reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books to our children.  In Farmer Boy, a book about the early years of Wilder's future husband Almanzo, his mother learns that her son may abandon farming to go to work for a carriage-maker in town. 

Then Father told her that Mr. Paddock wanted to take Almanzo as an apprentice.
Mother’s brown eyes snapped, and her cheeks turned as red as her red wool dress. She laid down her knife and fork.
“I never heard of such a thing!” she said. “Well, the sooner Mr. Paddock gets that out of his head, the better! I hope you gave him a piece of your mind! Why on earth, I’d like to know, should Almanzo live in town at the beck and call of every Tom, Dick, and Harry?”
“Paddock makes good money,” said Father. “I guess if truth were told, he banks more money every year than I do. He looks on it as a good opening for the boy.”
“Well!” Mother snapped. She was all ruffled, like an angry hen. “A pretty pass the world’s coming to, if any man thinks it’s a step up in the world to leave a good farm and go to town! How does Mr. Paddock make his money, if it isn’t catering to us? I guess if he didn’t make wagons to suit farmers, he wouldn’t last long!”
“That’s true enough,” said Father. “But—”
“There’s no ‘but’ about it “Mother said. “Oh, it’s bad enough to see Royal come down to being nothing but a storekeeper! Maybe he’ll make money, but he’ll never be the man you are. Truckling to other people for his living, all his days— He’ll never be able to call his soul his own.

Her elevation of farming and the declaration that most other work condemns one to "truckling to other people" really resonates with me. The entire Little House series is quite wonderful and if you've got young kids, I highly recommend them. 

We return to Henry County, Kentucky in 4 weeks.  

Laura Didn't Approve this Blog Post

Occasionally our fair director must endure discomfort at the hands of her conspirators.  This blog post is one such example.  This clip shows THE SEER: A Conversation with Wendell Berry director Laura Dunn winning (to her complete surprise) the Independent Spirit Award for her first feature length documentary, THE UNFORESEEN.

(NOTE: Hey Laura, I posted this because so many people coming to FORTY PANES know and love the work of Wendell Berry, but don't necessarily know you. So we're bragging on you.  It's just part of marketing and promotion, please forgive!)