Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Finding North (ds. Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson)

An incendiary political missive in search of a good movie, Finding North is as frustrating as it is revelatory. Directors Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson come at the problem of hunger in the United States with the statistical acumen of seasoned journalists. Their conceptual scope is expansive, covering everything from the daily struggles of Rosie, a seriously malnourished fifth grader, and Barbie, a single mother of two, to more abstract problems like the federal government’s complicated dance around subsidies for enormous agribusinesses at the expense of local farmers. With the help of some unexpectedly poignant commentary from celebrity sources like Jeff Bridges – “We don’t fund our Department of Defense through charity,” he scoffs – they sharply indict capitalist culture’s endorsement of corporate welfare and neglect if not open hostility toward public health for those who fall under the rubric of “food insecure,” relying on food stamps and local food banks on a daily basis. But this material deserves better than the conventional and sometimes mawkish treatment it gets here. Too often Silverbush and Jacobson fall back on cute animated graphs and verbose wisdom from talking heads like Raj Patel, also trotted out for expert testimony on food sovereignty in Jennifer Baichwal’s Payback just this year. The soundtrack’s reliance on a series of strong but on-the-nose songs by T-Bone Burnett and the Civil Wars to emphasize its subjects’ dire straits also feels unnecessary and, in the face of their real struggles, which are otherwise rendered in heartbreaking detail, cheap. Movie aside, the message is strong. **1/2/****

PROGRAMME: Special Presentations

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