21 August, 2012

Review: "GROW!" (****)

Chickens star in "GROW!"

With local farmers' markets and organic eateries located all over metropolitan Atlanta these days, it is easy to forget that organic, locally-produced food was much harder to come by a few years back. When photographers Christine Anthony and Owen Masterson moved to Atlanta from Los Angeles in 2005, they turned their personal quest for local food into a professional mission to shed light on Georgia's growing organic scene. "GROW!" is an involving look at 20 young farmers from 12 farms located all over the state.

A lot of documentaries weave their way through Georgia's film festival circuit. "GROW!" couldn't be more suited for the tour even if it tried. The film screened at the Savannah Film Festival and won awards at the Macon Film Festival, the Rome International Film Festival and DocuFest Atlanta. After making the festival rounds, the film was re-edited with more footage in preparation for the DVD release.

Anthony and Masterson do a great job as first time filmmakers to strike a smooth balance between the visual and voiceover elements of the documentary. We aren't forced to just hear about farming, we are invited into the fields to witness it for ourselves. While this prospect might not excite everyone, the passion and energy of the farmers is very convincing. These are former accountants, medical students, teachers and scientists that all felt a strong calling to get their hands dirty. The film isn't mounted atop a crusade to convict anyone for what they eat. Instead, it focuses on who grows our food, why they grow our food and why they love what they do.

Though the film runs short of an hour, you quickly develop attachments to many of the farmers. I would be surprised if the film doesn't make every viewer visualize themselves on a farm somewhere. Someday, you should drive through rural Georgia, between the endless cotton fields and pecan groves. It wouldn't be so bad to be called 'the salt of the earth.'

"GROW!" is a fresh and encouraging look at Georgia's evolving agricultural society. You can now buy or rent the film digitally at iTunes and Amazon, or purchase a DVD from the official website, www.growmovie.net.

4 out of 5 stars.

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