2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: LOOK AND SEE: A PORTRAIT OF WENDELL BERRY

look and seeLOOK AND SEE: A PORTRAIT OF WENDELL BERRY
Director Laura Dunn and co-director Jef Sewell profile the outspoken author and environmentalist through his immediate surroundings.

Festival Section:
Spotlight

Special Program:
The New Climate

Sundance Program Description:

Director Laura Dunn returns to the Festival with this fitting follow-up to her acclaimed documentary, THE UNFORESEEN (2007 Sundance Film Festival). Her latest film, LOOK AND SEE: A PORTRAIT OF WENDELL BERRY, premiered at the SXSW Film Festival, where it received a Special Jury Award for visual design.

This gorgeously realized look at the decline of modern US agrarian culture is highlighted through the writings and reflections of author Wendell Berry, who embedded himself in rural life upon returning home to Kentucky in 1965. Writing from a long wooden desk overlooking the landscape, Berry used that vantage point to eloquently praise the benefits of a life deeply connected to the land. Since then, society has shifted dramatically, with mass development of rural areas and corporate farming practices replacing the roles of small family farms.

In this visually stunning ode to a changing cultural landscape, rare photographs blend with farmers and family members expressing their own stories. Using original wood engravings to frame chapters, LOOK AND SEE explores the graceful intersection between art, life, and the natural world.

Some Background:
Director/Producer/Editor:

  • Laura Dunn
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE UNFORESEEN

    The Austin-based filmmaker won an Independent Spirt Award for her previous documentary. Dunn received support for her latest film from the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program in 2009 and 2015.

Co-Director/Producer:

  • Jef Sewell
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE UNFORESEEN

    This marks the second film project for Sewell, who is also Dunn’s husband.

Co-Producers:

  • Owsley Brown III
    Past Sundance docs:

    MARINA ABRAMOVIC THE ARTIST IS PRESENT (2012)

    Brown is also an Independent Spirit Award winner for his first doc, NIGHT WALTZ. He recently debuted his latest film, SERENADE FOR HAITI, at DOC NYC.

  • Nick Offerman
    Past Sundance docs:

    NICK OFFERMAN: AMERICAN HAM (2014, writer/executive producer/performer)

    The actor and woodworker has also appeared in numerous Sundance alumni films, as well as 2017 titles like THE HERO and THE LITTLE HOURS. He also served as an emcee for the Sundance Awards ceremony in 2014.

  • Elaine Musselman
    This is Musselman’s first film at Sundance. She produces through her company, Tangible Productions.

  • Gill Holland
    Past Sundance docs:

    FLOW: FOR LOVE OF WATER (2008)

    Holland has also produced or executive produced several Sundance narratives, most recently IT FELT LIKE LOVE (2013) and THE CATECHISM CATACLYSM (2011).

  • Brenda Mitchell
    This marks Mitchell’s first Sundance project. She debuted her first documentary, HONKY TONK HEAVEN, at SXSW last year.

Executive Producers:

  • Robert Redford
    Past Sundance docs:

    AMERICAN EPIC (2016)
    THE UNFORESEEN
    INCIDENT AT OGLALA (1992)
    YOSEMITE: THE FATE OF HEAVEN (1989)

    Redford is, of course, the founder of the Sundance Institute, an Oscar winner, and an ardent environmental activist.

  • Terrence Malick
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE UNFORESEEN
    THE ENDURANCE: SHACKLETON’S LEGENDARY ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION (2001)

    Malick is the Oscar-nominated director of THE TREE OF LIFE and THE THIN RED LINE, among other critically lauded works.

Why You Should Watch:
Eschewing traditional biography, Dunn and Sewell instead introduce the audience to Berry offscreen, chiefly via his recited poetry. Onscreen, a sense of the man is conveyed through family members and friends residing in his beloved corner of Henry County KY, reflecting how the agrarian community has transformed over the past half century, and making it a fitting part of this year’s environmentally-focused programming, The New Climate.

More Info:
Website
Facebook

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance 2017 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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