After Winter, Spring

This award-winning documentary from France/USA was, to me, an illustration of the circle of life. Our 2013 Seattle International Film Festival screening audience was diverted by bucolic scenes of small farms in the Périgord region of France, where farming is still evolving. One hundred years ago, 50% of the population farmed, now it is just 3%.

We interview an elderly man who will retire his vineyard after the harvest this season. He reasons that it is time, the tree he planted when he was young, is now a mature tree, but he knows that some day it too, will die.

We watch a goose-raising enterprise run by women, who force-feed their geese because there is still a good market for paté, which we all know is made from goose liver. They say the secret is to respect their animals.

We watch a dairy farmer who will cease production soon, because if he doesn't, his elderly parents will feel obligated to keep helping him. At one point, they had four cows, but now they have over one hundred and the profit is still just the same. Modern machinery can only do so much.

We see a couple from Canada who want to try organic farming, which is far more labor intensive, but is coming into vogue. He has to take a year off and work elsewhere in order for them to afford this experiment.

One beleaguered farmer must cope with voluminous paperwork AND deal with a crabby neighbor who complains about his noisy cowbells. He maintains that "the sky is in charge of farming."

A former peasant raises grapes, corn, tobacco, and hay; he sells milk, pork, beef, poultry and veal. He works non-stop and is a pleasant, bright fellow who points out that of the four families in his village, not one of them has a child willing to continue farming.

The narration is by a former Pennsylvania resident who has moved to France. She is fascinated by the lovely scenery, the ancient buildings and the skeins of geese who migrate across the sky each year. She feels optimistic that the trend for organic produce might be just what the small farmer needs, both in France and the United States.

Only time will tell....

No rating, but be aware that some poultry dies on screen.
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