For the past decade and a half, Kombu Wholefoods has been offering Bellingen a feast of locally-grown produce, bulk grains and organic groceries. This Saturday, it also offers a feast for the eyes, intellect and heart.
From 1pm to 8pm, Kombu Food Film Festival will take over Bellingen Memorial Hall, inviting the community to take a seat in front of the big screen and watch a selection of documentaries. They have been handpicked by Kombu managers Kevin and Lowanna Doye to inspire, uplift and trigger positive change in how we think about and choose our food.
“We feel that watching films – particularly informative documentary films – in a collective environment is really powerful,” says Kev. “It can be a trigger for generating some real change.”
“We realise that some of the issues around food and the environment can feel disempowering, but this is not a misery fest; it’s an inspiration fest.”
“There’s a lot of incredibly positive stuff happening out there. We chose films that offer solutions rather than highlight problems. They’re offering discussion points from which we can move forwards. That’s really, really important.”
Festival-goers are invited to come and go as they please and watch one or two, or all of the films – all for free or by optional gold coin donation. Each film is rated PG and families are welcome. Any profits from donations will go to Kombu’s community garden – a children’s adventure zone with all-edible shrubs and fruit, outside Kombu’s store in Church Street.
On the decision to offer the event for free, Kev said: “We want a thriving strong community and strong world in which to live. Kombu’s business has grown ever since we first opened – what that means is that when we’ve covered our needs, any money that’s left over we put back into the community. This is our opportunity to say thank you to our community whilst also screening films that can bring about positive change.
“When Lowanna and I met were we were both making films to create social and environmental change. So, to continue supporting film is important to us personally, too.”
Included on the program is the Patagonia-produced film Unbroken Ground, which explores, among other sustainable food-sourcing practices, carbon sequestration. Proposed as a way to slow the atmospheric and marine accumulation of greenhouse gases, it involves the long-term storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon in the ground to either mitigate or defer global warming and climate change.
“If you imagine that the soil is the lung of the earth, it makes total sense,” says Kev.
Living The Change and A Simpler Way were both made by a young New Zealand and Australian couple, and explore communities and individuals in Australia carving a path in sustainable living. “It’s great to be able to share Australian stories,” says Kev.
“Sustainability is not an option – it is something that we need to achieve to keep going as a race. We especially loved Living the Change for the way it focuses on solutions.”
The finale is the multi-award-winning film Seed: The Untold Story, which focuses on the reluctant heroes around the world who, by saving seeds, are waging a David and Goliath battle to preserve our food legacy. Compelling not just for the issues it highlights, the film’s artful depiction of seeds germinating like moving sculptures has dazzled audiences on the international film festival circuit, netting it 14 awards.
The film-makers said they were inspired to make the film after seeing a National Geographic article which reported that up to 96 per cent of the vegetable seeds available in 1903 have disappeared, making diverse seed as endangered as the panda or polar bear.
“Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds,” say the film’s director-producers Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz. “These subtle flecks of life are the source of all existence. They feed us, clothe us, and provide the raw materials for our everyday lives. In a very real sense, they are life itself.”
Seeds, freely available to humans for millennia, are increasingly private property held in corporate hands. A cadre of just ten agrichemical companies now control more than two-thirds of the global seed market. Their patented crops now dominate farmers’ fields and dinner tables around the world. Meanwhile, farmers are forced to pay hefty licensing fees to plant crops and are prohibited from saving seeds at the end of a harvest – a practice that has maintained the world’s food supply since civilisation began.
“As we filmed seed savers, farmers, scientists and indigenous communities, we were struck by how little their voices are heard,” say Seigel and Betz. “The film presents audiences with a hidden fabric of our food, the people who painstakingly and meticulously curate the diversity of our food.”
“In telling this story, we aim to bring into clear focus the beauty, hope, and magic that seeds represent for humanity.”
Kev added: “Many years back we showed The Real Dirt on Farmer John at the Mem Hall. It was a huge success and this incredible film is made by the same folk. It explores one of the key issues facing food production in the 21st century. It’s an entertaining, amusing, serious and scary study of that simplest yet most complicated of things – a seed. Not to be missed!”
Kombu Food Film Festival: The program
1pm Living The Change: Inspiring Stories For A Sustainable Future explores stories of everyday people changing their lives to live sustainably.
3pm Unbroken Ground highlights pioneers in regenerative agriculture, diversified crop development and restorative fishing.
4pm A Simpler Way follows a community in Australia exploring a simpler way to live.
6pm Seed – winner of 14 awards including Best Cinematography at the United Nations Film Festival – follows seed-keepers’ David-and-Goliath battle against chemical seed companies.
Kombu Food Film Festival 2018
1pm to 8pm, Saturday 12 May 2018 | Bellingen Memorial Hall, 35 Hyde Street Bellingen | No booking required | Free entry (gold coin donation) | All films classified PG
Bellingen Shire is a secret Australian hamlet along the Waterfall Way on the NSW mid-north coast. This region is popular for its unique landscape where the Great Dividing Range almost touches the sea. It boasts a diverse history and proud indigenous culture, and is home to an eclectic and supportive community of farmers, alternative lifestylers, tree-changers, and families who have called this region home for generations. Interesting in so many ways and with so much to offer, it’s no wonder visitors return time & time again, while other never leave…