A screening of the award-winning Sundance documentary “Look & See,” a powerful cinematic portrait of Wendell Berry—farmer, activist, and one of America’s most significant living writers—will take place at 7 p.m. on Nov. 1 at the State Theatre in downtown State College. The screening is free and open to the public.
Often called “a prophet for rural America,” Berry has long been a voice for the communities that are so often overlooked by the media. In 1965, Berry returned home to Henry County, where he bought a small farmhouse and began a life of farming, writing and teaching. This lifelong relationship with the land and community would come to form the core of his prolific writings in poetry, fiction, and essays. A half century later, Henry County, like many rural communities across America, had become a place of quiet ideological struggle. In the span of a generation, the agrarian virtues of simplicity, land stewardship, sustainable farming, local economies and rootedness to place have been replaced by a capital-intensive model of industrial agriculture characterized by machine labor, chemical fertilizers, soil erosion and debt—all of which have frayed the fabric of rural communities.
Filmmaker Laura Dunn weaves Berry’s poetic and prescient words through cinematography and the testimonies of his family and neighbors, all of whom are being deeply affected by the industrial and economic changes to their agrarian way of life.
“It’s a conversation that is more urgent now than ever, as we find ourselves in a deeply divided nation where urban consumers remain so completely disconnected from the rural producers whose work sustains their very lives,” said Dunn. “Wendell shows us with extraordinary sensitivity, just what fidelity to a place and to one's own community can truly mean.”
- Lyn Garling, owner, Over the Moon Farm
- Leland Glenna, associate professor of rural sociology, Penn State
- Julia Spicher Kasdorf, American poet and professor of English and women’s studies, Penn State
Co-sponsors of the event include Penn State's Sustainability Institute, the Student Farm at Penn State, Rock Ethics Institute, EcoAction, Friends and Farmers Cooperative and the Boalsburg Farmers’ Market.