|'the evidence provided is fascinating and diverse and the talking heads increasingly passionate and interesting'|
The conceit at the heart of Think Global, Act Rural, a French documentary by Coline Serreau, is that modern farming methods are actively harming the land and failing to provide the most effective production of food. It espouses the virtues of traditional farming techniques, of not using ploughs, of focussing on soil, rather than plant quality and of using natural fertilizers and pesticides.
The way it does this is to weave a heady web of conspiracy theory whereby the companies that invented farming chemicals perpetrate their use for material gain, rather than biological effectiveness and are then protected by the politician. For twenty minutes Serreau presents a polemical tirade, which is difficult to swallow, ill-evidenced and far too easy to ignore.
Then the film makes a wise decision and starts to provide both evidence and micro-biology level facts. 'Look at this soil', the director and her contributors say,' treated by chemicals and ploughed, its smooth, flat, like a rock, is that what soil is meant to be?' 'Don't say 'bon appetit'' says one man, 'say 'good luck', you have no idea what you're putting into your body.'
The argument is eventually a compelling one which only gets more so as Think Global, Act Rural continues. The evidence provided is fascinating and diverse and the talking heads increasingly passionate and interesting, although it's obvious that some interviews and images have been edited for effect. The film ends up crossing continents, drawing you in with its mantra of the global application of rural, near personal, policies.
The remaining problems - an ill-explained attempt to read the whole thing through the scope of gender politics and two out of place musical montages at the end - are minor issues really and the whole package comes across as both worthy and involving.
'one of the most ineptly made and misinformed documentaries I have ever seen' - Rich On Film