Wrapping up today’s look at the World Cinema Documentary Competition: From the UK, director Andy Heathcote and co-director Heike Bachelier’s THE MOO MAN, a portrait of a small-scale British dairy farm.
Sundance Program Description:
In the bucolic English countryside, Stephen Hook runs the family dairy farm, Hook and Son, a lo-fi anomaly resisting a hi-fi world. Farming is a hard life and an even harder business, but Stephen and his family make it work by staying small and offering services like home delivery. And it’s not just a profession for Stephen: each cow has a name and is lovingly cared for, especially the farm’s resident “cover girl,” Ida. It becomes quite clear that Stephen’s unconventional and heartwarming friendship with his herd is what really enables the farm to survive.
Director Andy Heathcote and codirector Heike Bachelier offer a glimpse of an endangered way of life. Their quiet and subdued approach allows their subjects—both human and bovine—to captivate and charm the audience. In this age when life seemingly rushes by at breakneck speed, it’s nice to see that some people can still sustain a simpler existence.
Heathcote turned to filmmaking from a photography background, originally working on commercial, news, and corporate editing. Bachelier, who also edited the film, developed her producing and directing chops working in German public television. The duo previously collaborated on their first feature documentary, THE LOST WORLD OF MR HARDY, which was also about a family business and its place in the modern world.
Why You Should Watch:
Taking an unobtrusive observational approach, Heathcote and Bachelier skillfully convey the rhythms of Hook and Son and gingerly reveal the pleasures of a “simpler” life. They’ve chosen their subjects well – the agreeable Hook and his herd display genuine, distinct personalities, and play off one another brilliantly – making for a gratifying virtual visit to their farmstead for the viewer.
For more information, visit the doc’s website and Facebook page. For Heathcote and Bachelier’s thoughts on the doc, check out their Indiewire interview. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.