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St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase: Food and Wine

Cinema St. Louis is running its annual St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase online this year. For all the information on how to view these films, click HERE.

Three short documentary films in the Showcase take viewers to an urban vegetable farm, a downstate cattle farm and Missouri wine country. They’re included (along with a 4-minute Goat Yoga film) in the group Doc Shorts 1: Food, Wine and Nature. The films in the Showcase can be viewed on demand anytime from July 10 through July 19.

The filmmakers here face the battle almost every documentary filmmaker must address: the amount of screen time given to talking heads versus the amount of time other visuals are used to tell the story. For the most part, these folks get the ratio right. Each film runs right around 15 minutes.

The most satisfying of the three is Growing For Good from Van Nguyen and Morgan Paar.  A farm in St. Louis’s Central West End grows vegetables and gives them away. The farm’s founders and its volunteers (including 4th graders from a local private school) talk about what it means to work the farm.

The people who run and patronize a local food pantry offer their appreciation for the efforts of the folks who grow the food and for the vegetables themselves. Among the great looking veggies harvested and delivered are okra, tomatoes, radishes, eggplant and the one most requested… Well, you’ll have to watch the film to find out what’s #1.

Austin Williams is a man who spent a year as a teacher but hated it. He bought a 460-acre farm near Greenville, Missouri where he raises cows and sheep. The Honest Work Of Farming from filmmaker Rickie Ross documents what goes into a day of farming, starting with an early wake-up each day. Milking his cows and grazing his cattle and sheep is a labor of love for Williams who says his career transition is “one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Missing from the film are comments from Williams’ wife who is shown with their infant but never heard. Is she as enthusiastic about farming as her husband is? Also, how’s business? Is the farm making money? Are there significant challenges or is farming just continual bliss for Mr. Williams? Sure, it’s a short film, but a tad more info would be nice. (By the way, the drone footage of the farm is gorgeous.)

Missouri Wine: The Lost Years from Julia Doyle incorporates archival footage from those horrible years of prohibition when federal agents not only poured out bottles and barrels of wine but also destroyed winemaking implements. They even ripped out thousands of acres of vineyards. The momentum that Missouri had as a wine region was stopped cold.

The story of the comeback of Missouri wines over the last century is related by Glenn Bardgett of Annie Gunn’s restaurant, Chuck Dressell of Mt. Pleasant Winery, Paul Leroy of Hermannhof Winery. The challenge of convincing wine drinkers that Missouri wines are of high quality is ongoing. But the three gents here have an optimistic outlook on the wines coming from Augusta, Hermann and vicinity.

The URL for these films is cinemastlouis.org. For the Showcase, click HERE.

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